Senior Indian, Chinese Army commanders in talks to defuse tension in Ladakh

(Representative image) Since the beginning of May several aggressive incidents have taken place in Eastern Ladakh.

High-level Indian and Chinese military commanders met at designated points along the LAC (line of actual control) on May 22 and May 23 to defuse the current situation in Eastern Ladakh. Sources told ANI that parallel diplomatic channels in New Delhi and Beijing were also working towards a peaceful resolution. Since the beginning of May, Chinese army has been involved in several incidents in Eastern Ladakh, along the LAC.

While the Indian and Chinese military commanders are talking face-to-face in Ladakh, diplomatic efforts are underway in the national capitals of the two countries to resolve the situation. The Indian Army has been effectively responding by building and deploying its own capabilities in Eastern Ladakh, including the Galwan sector. Sources have told ANI that no compromise will be made with regard to maintaining the sanctity of India's borders and that while India believes in peace, it is firm and resolute when it comes to the defence of its territory.

This has been reflected in spirit even in the four or more agreements between India and China, which have historically formed the mechanism for border management. The mechanisms are still in place and working at a bilateral level. Two of them are of 1993 and 1996 and there is a CBM (Confidence Building Measures) in place since 2005 and a border agreement since 2013.

These agreements form the framework under which border talks have been held between India and China and not resulted in a full-blown conflict. They have also figured in the summit level meetings held between PM Modi and President Xi and previous Prime Ministers and Presidents of the two countries. However, this is not the first time that the Chinese army has taken an aggressive posture in this region and provoked a face-off with Indian troops since the 1962 China-India war.

There was Sikkim in 2008, Depsang in 2013, Chumar in 2014, and Doklam in 2017. China has not been comfortable with the construction of the Darbuk-Shyok-DBO Road in the Indian side of the LAC. The construction of the 255km road began in 2000 and was to be completed by 2014, but after several hiccups, the entire road finally was ready for use recently.

The current face-off is believed to be in reaction to India steadily building infrastructure in Ladakh and the increase in local civilian activity on the Indian side of LAC. For China, this is an irritant because India is rapidly narrowing down the infrastructure gap in Ladakh. While India has not obstructed in any manner the activities of the Chinese on their side of the LAC, whether it is putting up of the pre-fabricated structures or an increase in their patrolling.

The Chinese patrol units have been aggressive in expressing their displeasure to the Indian army activity on the DBO road. This has manifested in their activity in Galwan sector, Pangong lake and other strategic areas. The Indian army has and will continue to respond as the need arises say sources.

The ramping up of national security apparatus post Kargil that included the eastern sector has been a cause of vexation for the Chinese. The heightened interference with Indian patrolling along the LAC by the Chinese post-2000 saw it become hyper-aggressive in the Doklam stand-off.

If this face off in Eastern Ladakh is a similar strategy then sources indicate that the Indian army is well prepared for bringing in the required forces to ensure that its national security is not compromised even for a minute. China has built up its forces along its side of the LAC as is evidenced from satellite imagery available in open source intelligence data.

It has not hesitated in pushing its troops back and forth in the LAC to provoke a response from the Indian side. These mind games are often played by troops when they are at eyeball-to-eyeball levels in non-demarcated borders like the LAC. However, sources indicate that this time the Chinese side seems to be playing more than normal eye games. Hence the Indian army has moved men and material as much or more than is required in clear view of the Chinese army.

It is incorrect and naive to assume, say sources, that the Indian army was caught napping due to Covid-19 conditions. Those conditions prevail on both sides of LAC, in fact probably more on the other side, hence to say that troops levels are low or lower is an inaccurate assumption say sources. The Indian armed forces are prepared for a scenario that this standoff could not be a short-termed one. If anything the Doklam episode has been a learning experience for India in that China doesn't back down easily, no international badgering works on them and they like to keep testing India on how long and how much pressure it can withstand. Sources indicate that contrary to some reports; Indian frontline commanders have been quick in their response and firmness and continue to hold their ground at the LAC.

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(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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