Chinese soldiers have wrapped up their tents and pulled back in three intrusion points in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley , though a talk between major-generals on two sides did not lead to a breakthrough late on Tuesday.
The first apparent pull-out was reported from Finger 4, where the Chinese had intruded at least 2 kms across the LAC , not far from an ITBP camp in the area.
Then pullouts were also reported from Finger 2 and 3 , where intrusions were similarly deep.
In Delhi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh admitted “today andar aaye gain”(they have come bit deeper this time) when referring to the intrusions , admitting high troops numbers on the Chinese side and matching deployments by the Indian army.
Military sources said the Chinese stopped their motor boat patrolling up to Fox point – the southernmost peninsula on the northern bank of Pangong Tso (Image 9). Fox point – which is an extension of finger 4 has a high ridge running on its western periphery
Though the talks at the levels of brigadiers and major-generals have failed , one between 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen Harinder Singh and his Chinese counterpart were scheduled for 6 June.
Harinder Singh is highly rated in the Indian army, his performance of the highest level both as a regimental soldier and Director General of Military Intelligence (DGMI) .
” Harinder Sir takes great care of his men but is a very tough soldier and a hard task master,” said an MI officer . His long ternure in MI perhaps endows him with a deep insight into the PLA and negotiations skills which may prove useful on June 6.
Military officials said that though the Indian Army might have stare down the PLA by firmly sticking to their positions, there was ‘no room for complacency’.
“The Chinese could pull out of an area where we have stared them down by confronting them in strength, but they might jolly well go and pitch these somewhere else across the LAC to create a fresh problem for us. We just cannot relax the vigil,” said a senior officer here.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has also said efforts are on to resolve the border row in eastern Ladakh.
“I want to assure the country that we will not allow India’s pride to be hurt under any circumstances. India has been following a clear policy of maintaining good relations with neighbouring countries and it is not a new approach; We have been following it for long. At times, a situation arises with China. It has happened before,” he said.
Singh referred to the 2017 Doklam episode , saying the situation then too appeared “very tense”. “But we did not step back. Ultimately, we were able to resolve the situation.”
The Defence Minister noted that China has also said that it wants to resolve the border issue in eastern Ladakh through diplomatic dialogue and that transgressions take place due to varying perception about the Line of Actual Control by the two sides.
“It has been India’s efforts to ensure that the tension does not escalate. It should be resolved through talks at military and diplomatic levels. Negotiations are ongoing between the two countries at the military and diplomatic levels,” he said.
Officials in the military engineering group, Border Roads Organisation, said that 11 special trains have been sought from the Railways to move workers from Jharkhand to Jammu and Chandigarh from where they will be taken to areas close to the China border for building roads.
“There is no question of halting work on the road projects because of the standoff that could go on for weeks. The working season has begun and we cannot waste time,” said a BRO official
He said some work has already started on the strategic Darbuk-Shyok-Daulet Beg Oldie road in Ladakh.
The BRO official said they plan to transport 11,815 workers by 11 trains, after which they be driven in trucks to border areas in Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is constructing important roads.
The Union home ministry asked the railway ministry on May 22 to arrange the special trains from Jharkhand to Jammu and Chandigarh. But the effort has run into rough weather when the Jharkhand’s BJP government cancelled the permission earlier granted to the BRO to hold a recruitment rally at Dumka in May for picking up workers for the infrastructure works in Ladakh and other frontier regions.
The Soren government has cited the Covid pandemic as the cause for cancelling the permission on 29 May by a letter written to Saurabh Bhatnagar, director (planning) of BRO’s Vijayak Pariyojana.
It is not clear how the Chinese would react when hordes of additional workers turn up at construction sites because India’s ‘catch-up-with-China’ infrastructure building efforts constitutes the most important source of ire for the Chinese.
But retired major-general Gaganjit Singh, with long experience as a field commander on the China border and also in defence intelligence, says “the intrusions this time have been deep and I cannot understand how could the Chinese be allowed to come this far.”
“When you deal with the Chinese , you need to be very tough but also very clever. I am not yet willing to say they will back off easily but the Chinese will finally pull back if we maintain sufficient, appropriate and relentless pressure,” Gaganjit Singh told Easternlink.
“We should tell them clearly we dont intend to change the status quo on the LAC, but insist they should also not do that and revert to pre-April positions,” he said.