Sonali Khandelwal,Delhi/ Gyamtsho Topden , Leh
India sounded a high alert along its 3348-kms disputed Himalayan frontier with China as two of the world’s largest land armies moved forward heavy artillery and armour after an attempted de-escalation ended up in savage hand-to-hand combat earlier this week, that left more than sixty dead.
While 23 Indian soldiers were confirmed killed and at least 11 were still missing , about 25 of the 110 injured soldiers were in serious condition.
More than forty Chinese troops died including two majors (unconfirmed reports suggest the death of a Chinese colonel) in retaliatory attacks by Indian troops and in a landslide that the Chinese allege was triggered by an hilltop explosion , a charge the Indian deny and attribute it to the ‘Hand of God’ due to cloudburst and incessant rains.
” The days of walk in options are over for the PLA. We will impose heavy costs on any attempt to change the Line of Actual Control ,” said a senior military official in Delhi.
“We are back to our forward positions and will not move back , we are prepared for any contingency and now that we know not to trust the Chinese, they will realise what the Indian army is like,” the officer said but without wishing to be named.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi , whose pictures praying for the dead Indian soldiers are splashed all across Indian newspapers, promised to give a ‘befitting reply’ to the Chinese attacks during his interactions with the Chief Ministers over Covid-19 situation .
“Nobody should doubt that India wants peace but when provoked will give a befitting reply,” he said.
Modi was briefed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh twice in the last 24 hours about China’s “cartographic aggression” .
Singh said China has flouted all bilateral agreements and laid-down border management protocols including specific provisions of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA). The defence minister told the PM the army was fully prepared to meet any eventuality including a two front war because the army topbrass could not rule out Pakistan jumping into the fray if China attacked India.
Modi also instructed all ministries to cancel or review all contracts and business deals with Chinese companies , prevent them from competing for tenders in future and asked Indian companies to stay away from partnerships with Chinese companies.
“We will shut our economy to the Chinese, we will block them at our borders and from our markets,” said a senior BJP leader .
“This is not a soft government , we know how to tackle them.”
Easternlink provides readers with exclusive satellite pictures about the fresh Chinese build-up that began from May 29 even as both sides were engaged in military and diplomatic negotiations to break the ice.
HawkEye 360 , that operates the first-of-its-kind commercial satellite constellation that can identify and geolocate a broad range of RF signals, has detected increased RF activity along the Galwan River Valley in China on May 29 (see right hand of the below image).
It then tasked Planet’s SkySat to that location to capture satellite images on June 11 that confirmed the suspected Chinese military buildup (see left hand of the below image). The images reveal extensive trucks, tents, and equipment along the valley.
It can be challenging to get a clear earth observation image, demonstrating the power of HawkEye 360’s RF analytics which was able to identifyactivity at the location before it was possible to get a visible image of the region.
These images are a clear proof of China’s ‘confuse-and strike’ strategy where they couch their real intentions rather carefully. Monday night’s strikes were well thought out and caught the Indian army napping but the ferocious retaliation has driven home that once the Indian army has had enough , it will defusing the crisis to politicians and diplomats and prepare for war with all it has.