New Delhi: Chinese soldiers are busy blacktopping a track in the disputed ‘finger’ area of Pangong lake in Ladakh after blocking the path of Indian patrols with a new bunker, two bulldozers and a moat-like construction.
Sources told ThePrint the fresh Chinese construction activity has been happening around Finger 4, a disputed territory. Blacktopping is the final stage of building a motorable road.
The 134 km of Pangong lake’s northern bank juts out like a palm, and the various protrusions are identified as “fingers” to demarcate territory. While India asserts that the LAC (Line of Actual Control) starts at Finger 8, China claims it starts at Finger 2, which India dominates.
In 1999, during the Kargil War when Indian forces were diverted, the Chinese had stepped in and built a track up to Finger 5, but this was not completely blacktopped.
As reported earlier, Chinese troops have stepped into the disputed ‘Finger’ area, which witnessed fist fights and stone-pelting on the evening of 5 May.
ThePrint first reported on 10 May that additional troops were pressed in to the area even though the Army said formal “disengagement” happened.
New bunker, bulldozers to block Indian patrols
Sources said the Chinese have dug up a moat-kind of structure and also blocked the route of Indian patrols with two bulldozers.
They said the Chinese are working at a fast pace blacktopping the route. This has always been the Chinese strategy and construction happens at super-fast speed, sources added.
Even though the area is disputed, Indian patrols used to move up to Finger 5, but if the Chinese don’t move, patrolling teams won’t be able to go much beyond Finger 3.
The construction is happening at a time when the Chinese have spoken about “resolving differences”.
On Friday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told his US counterpart Dr Mark T. Esper that it would use “existing bilateral mechanism” to ease tensions with China along the LAC in Ladakh, after US President Donald Trump offered to play mediator for the two Asian giants.