New Delhi: The Indian Army, now controlling multiple key ridges on the south bank of the Pangong Lake, has effective military control of the entire disputed area in the region.
Sources said that the army is positioned in a manner that ensures that the entire disputed area, right till India’s perception of the Line of Actual Control in the region, can be defended. Senior officials say the army’s occupation of these key heights is an entirely defensive move, done to counter a Chinese build-up with tanks and troops on their side of the LAC in the area.
This was done on the night of August 29 and August 30 in contravention of the confidence building measures that both sides have worked out during the recent military talks in Eastern Ladakh, where major military movements are not supposed to be carried out at night.
In dominating the heights, soldiers of the Indian Army also over-see the crucial Spanggur Gap, a key passage in the area through which troop movement can take place. China has also built a tarred road on the south bank of the neighbouring Spanggur Lake, through which it can bring in heavy vehicles including tanks and armoured personnel carriers. By dominating the heights in this area, the Indian Army can sight the movement of these vehicles.
There has been no breakthrough in Brigadier-level talks in the regions to diffuse the situation. A second round of talks is presently on in the Chushul area.
In a strongly worded statement this morning, its sternest so far, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi has said, ”India’s move has grossly violated China’s territorial sovereignty, seriously violated relevant agreements, protocols and important consensus reached between the two countries.” The statement also says that India’s military moves have ”severely damaged peace and tranquility along China-India border areas.”
The south-bank of the Pangong Lake saw fierce clashes between the Indian and Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the 1962 war. The Indian build-up in the area is meant to defend Indian territory in the key Chushul Valley in the region.
Since early May, Chinese forces have made incursions in six areas along the disputed Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh. In clashes in Galwan, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action though a buffer zone between the forces has since been created.
In other areas, including the North bank of the Pangong Lake, there has been no substantial military disengagement despite several rounds of military and diplomatic talks.
Senior officials have said that by attempting to open up a new front on the South Bank of the Pangong Lake, in an area which has traditionally been heavily defended by the Indian Army, Chinese forces are intent to unilaterally change the status of the Line of Actual Control, a worrying signal that New Delhi feels it has to proactively respond to.