New Delhi: The eventual game plan of Chinese incursions in the Galwan Valley seems to be to desist India from carrying out any new construction beyond the confluence of the Shyok-Galwan river, sources in the defence and security establishment have told ThePrint.
The Chinese also seek to restrict Indian patrols to the same point, located 4.5 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC), rather than until Patrol Point 14, which is 500 metres from the border (according to the 1960 claim line of China) and marks the status quo before the PLA incursions began in May, the sources said.
However, the sources added, the Army is standing its ground and has demanded that the status quo as of early April be maintained.
According to the sources, while the Chinese have been objecting to the 60-metre-long bridge over the Shyok river, which was completed by India during the stand-off earlier this month, the real problem was “certain construction” being carried out by India beyond the confluence point.
The sources remained tight-lipped about the exact nature of this construction, but indicated that it was some kind of a track, possibly a temporary structure meant to ease the movement of personnel and not vehicles.
“To reach PP14, the patrol team had to wade through the water about five times,” said one of the sources.
Latest satellite imagery from the area shows some kind of a bridge connection near the Y-Axis area, which is about a kilometre and a half from the LAC, in May, but is no longer visible.
Time series at #Galwan shows how two patches of land, connected by multiple structures in May, had been disconnected by June with defensive walls on either side; raising questions on how structures across the river were supposedly built by India without physical access pic.twitter.com/YuhAaW96Tp
— d-atis☠️ (@detresfa_) June 26, 2020
Fresh satellite images presumably also show a new “wall” kind of structure, which seems to have been built by India. This comes amid increased Chinese presence in the area and the reappearance of the Chinese observation point on India’s side of the LAC, at the mouth of the Galwan Valley, whose destruction by the Army triggered the 15 June clash.
Chinese push in Galwan Valley
According to the understanding established earlier at the local level, Indians would patrol until Patrol Point 14. However, the Chinese now seem to be trying to push ahead.
While the Chinese have laid claim to the entire Galwan Valley in government announcements, sources said the Chinese, in talks at various levels, have demanded that the Indian patrol team should not cross the confluence of Shyok and Galwan.
The Galwan Valley is strategically important for both sides because it gives India direct access to Aksai Chin, Indian territory under Chinese occupation.
The External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said Thursday that, in early May, the Chinese side had taken action to hinder India’s normal, traditional patrolling pattern in the Galwan Valley area.
He added that the resulting face-off was addressed by the ground commanders in keeping with the provisions of bilateral agreements and protocols.