Connecting Regions of Asia.

The Ladakh Impasse

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The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) actions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh Subsector and along the entire length have successfully been contained by the Indian Army. 

Initially assessed as a collective training deployment, the occupation of the Fingers 4 to 8, the deployment in the Depsang plains and DBO was a cause of concern. 

The deployment is likely to continue as each side is unlikely to withdraw to a position which will not allow a Military Commander to fight a cohesive defensive battle.

“Despite eight rounds of talks by the Military Commanders and the last two interactions with the representatives of the MEA have not borne much fruit,” says an Indian Army veteran Lt Col Manoj K Channan.

According to him, “In a graduated response to the PLA’s aggressive designs, the Indian Government and the Military Commander’s engaged in a dialogue at the highest levels on each side, without much success. Ministerial Level talks on the sidelines of the SCO were fruitful in containing the eyeball contact from further escalation. The Indian Government has expressed that the PLA troops should pull back to March 2020 deployment.”

“On the other hand the occupation of dominating heights by the Indian Army has created a Catch 22 situation in which any vacation of the heights will have severe repercussions in case the Chinese occupy them now,” Lt Col Channan tells Financial Express Online.

In his view, “The use of unorthodox weapons from the medieval times is a ruse for psychological purposes, the modern-day soldier is not going to hesitate to “shoot to kill” in case such weapons are engaged in the physical brawls as witnessed in the Galwan Valley.”

“The troops are in Artic Tents with all creature comforts in place and despite the “Passes” being closed due to snow, the aerobridge is functional; in addition to Indian Air Force flights the civil charter flights too have been mustered to send the troops on much deserved leave for rest and recuperation,” he concludes.

What does the Ministry of Defence Annual Report say?

The Indian Army is prepared to fight any eventuality and the troops are “well entrenched” to counter any misadventure by Chinese forces in eastern Ladakh.

For ensuring the sanctity of our claims in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army troops have given a response in “a firm and non-escalatory way’’ to the unilateral and provocative actions by the Chinese to change the status quo by force, in more than one area along the LAC.

The report has also said that the troops deployed in those heights are braving inclement weather and Advance Winter Stocking (AWS) and winter preparations for the enhanced strength has been completed.

The report also talks about the preparedness of the Indian Army and efforts to resolve the issue in an amicable manner through talks, even as the PLA escalated the situation and has used “unorthodox weapons” and has been amassing large numbers of troops.

As has been reported last year, the PLA had used clubs and nail-embedded sticks as well as iron rods with machete-like heads in several skirmishes with Indian soldiers in Ladakh. “These were also used in the Galwan Valley clash which took place on June 15, 2020, in which the Indian Army lost 20 soldiers and the Chinese suffered significant casualties.”

Last August, the Indian troops, in `a precautionary deployment’, had pre-empted Chinese expansionist designs. They had occupied heights along the southern bank of Pangong Tso, the annual report has said.

IAF played a critical role

The Indian Air Force (IAF), assisted in the mobilisation of the troops in a short span of time as well as moving heavy equipment like guns, tanks and ammunition, clothing and rations for the troops. The IAF is the lifeline for the troops who are deployed in minus 30-40 degrees Celsius temperature.

Besides the transport fleet, the IAF has also deployed its attack helicopters and fighters in the Ladakh sector, the report has stated.

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