S.Govindan & Gyamtsho Topden, Leh
The Indian Army is taking no chances in Ladakh as it goes ahead with one of its largest ever deployment amidst the stand off with China.
This is in response to the huge build up by the Chinese along the Line of Actual Control.
Both armies have started pulling back from eyeball-to-eyeball situations to defuse tensions after a 2 hour phonecall between Indian NSA Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, both Special Representatives for Border Negotiations.
“But the Indian army will not take chances and stay prepared to meet any challenge,” said a formation commander.
Earlier, Ladakh had only one division. However, now there are four divisions. Each division comprises around 20,000 troops.
Recently, the new division from Uttar Pradesh was moved to eastern Ladakh and it would remained stationed over there.
On Friday, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi paid a surprise visit to Nimu in Ladakh. This was aimed at both boosting the morale of the forces as well as send a strong message to China.
The huge build up comes in the backdrop of inputs that the Chinese may attempt an incursion. The Indian Army is taking no chance and is keeping a close guard along the Line of Actual Control.
On the other hand, the Indian Air Force’s capability has been ramped up immensely, with the induction of the C-17 Globemaster Super Hercules and the CH-47 Chinook. The Indian Army’s strike formations are now spearheaded by the T-90 tanks.
Airlifting the T-90s was an important aspect for the IAF. The 46 tonne tanks is very crucial to the Indian Army as it faces the Chinese deployments, which also include a mix of both heavy and light tanks.
Airlifting the T-90 tank was possible only due to C-17, which has a payload capacity of 77 tonnes. The C-17 have come in handy because the Il-76 could airlift only 45 tonnes, while the weight of the T-90 is 46 tonnes. The C-17s have been in service since 2013 and there are 11 of them.
The Indian Army had three regiments of the older T-72 tanks, which weigh around 40 tonnes. Earlier, the IL-76 would airlift the T-72s and this is an exercise that has been going on since the 1990s.
The deployment comes when India and China have started showing first signs of disengagement at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh where the situation has been volatile for over two months.
The removal of Chinese tents in Galwan Valley followed a two-hour telephonic conversation on Sunday between the Special Representatives of India and China on the Boundary Question.
India’s National Security Advisor (NSA), Ajit Doval, and China’s State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, spoke to each other, two days after Prime Minster Narendra Modi’s visit to operational areas in Ladakh.
Officials observing the situation on the ground call it a “piecemeal de-escalation” and a first step taken to defuse the situation.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has removed tents and structures at Patrol Point 14 in Galwan Valley of Eastern Ladakh where the bloody clash took place on June 15 but the retreat has to be verified on the ground, government sources said.
“Removal of tents is visible but whether they have pulled back needs to be verified on ground,” said an official. The talks at the NSA’s have had a big impact on the two armies. After three rounds of top military commanders talks, a need was felt to escalate the dialogue to reach a consensus for a resolution, government sources said.
In Galwan, 20 Indian soldiers, including a commanding officer, were killed in the ugly clashes. China has not revealed its casualties, though reports from the ground indicated they faced losses.
The disengagement has started as per terms agreed in the Corps Commanders meeting on June 30. “No specific distance of the pull back can be confirmed as it needs to be verified,” said another official.