Citing security reasons, the sources have not revealed the number of Indian troops located in an area which is considered as India’s own and is along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Tensions between the troops of India and China cool down after discussions at the local level. Over the weekend Indian and Chinese troops had been in a stand-off when fistfights and stone-pelting incidents had taken place in Eastern Ladakh and in Sikkim.
Citing security reasons, the sources have not revealed the number of Indian troops located in an area which is considered as India’s own and is along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Reports indicate that the Chinese have around 1,200 troops.
What does the Indian Army say?
According to the Indian Army, “There is no continuing faceoffs at the Pangong Tso Lake. Incidents of the face-off and aggressive behaviour occur on LAC and the patrols disengage after local dialogue and discussions. Since the boundary issue is not resolved, temporary and face-offs of short duration occur. And these are resolved based on established protocols.”
The Indian Army has also urged the media to avoid speculation and avoid unsubstantiated statements.
What is the reason for these incidents?
The tension between the troops has been building since earlier this year. And, according to experts since the perception of LAC differs the patrolling parties of both sides often ask each other to go back.
“These are routine events and one should not read much into this,” said a senior officer who wished to remain anonymous.
At an altitude of 13,000 feet, there is the north bank of Pangong Tso, a 135-km glacial melt lake straddling India and China. There is location `Finger 2’ where Indian troops patrol. Though this is not a disputed area, yet the PLA troops have been seen moving there and have been told by the Indian side to go back.
Amidst all this, fistfights and stone pelting and Chinese helicopters flying in the area, Indian Air Force was asked to fly a couple of Sukhoi30 MKI. “The Indian Air Force fighter jets were airborne in Ladakh as routine flying and not as response to Chinese helicopters, “ sources have clarified.
In view of an existing agreement between India and China, the fighter aircraft have to keep away from LAC.
“The two seemingly aggressive manoeuvres by PLA along Sino-Indian LAC, one in Sikkim and the other in Ladakh, both effectively contested by Indian counter manoeuvres need to be seen in the light of growing global anti-China sentiments and accusations, which despite massive pushback, has certainly put CCP on the backfoot. The incidents along the LAC must be seen alongside similar aggressive PLAN manoeuvres in South and East China Seas” says Maj Gen Ajay Das (retd), Geopolitics, Strategy, and Security Expert.
According to Das “While these are to send out a signal to the world that China continues to remain steadfast in pursuing its geographical and geopolitical claims despite deaths and economic setbacks caused by Covid19 pandemic, their core purpose is internal messaging. The CCP in the midst of growing external pressures and internal disaffection, cannot be seen to be insecure amongst its citizens in the mainland and abroad. These military manoeuvres certainly raise nationalistic sentiments amongst small sections within China which is then seeded nationally, through its extensive state controlled media, including cyber warriors, often referred as five cent army.”
Sharing his views, Dr Ajey Lele, Senior Fellow at MP-IDSA, says, “Indo-China border is famous for mature handling of any crisis if any. During the last four decades, not even a single bullet has been fired at each other along with this one of the longest borders in the world. In recent past during the year 2017, the two sides were found engaged in a months-long territorial standoff on the disputed Doklam plateau, an unmarked border territory between China and Bhutan.”
“Today, the question is, ‘why this is happening now, during the Covid-19 crisis? Was this a “temporary and short” face-off between owing to some minor issues at the local level or there is a larger game plan of China? There is a possibility that China could be testing the resolve of the Indian soldiers and checking-up their level of alternateness. Also, they could be interested in knowing the deployment strategy of Indian forces during this crisis situation in the rest of the country,” he opines.
Is China keen to take advantage of Covid-19 crisis, thinking that this is an opportune time to make some ingress into the disputed territory and capture a few posts?
“The recent problems at the western border and now at the eastern border demonstrate that India just cannot offer to lower down their guard at both these borders. Unfortunately, India’s both the adversaries do not believe in the rationale of ‘just’ war strategy. Presently, India and the rest of the world is suffering from the crisis which has its origin in China and perhaps China is trying to use the same catastrophe to settle the score on the Indo-China border. India needs to remain extremely vigilant,” Lele urges.