New Delhi: India has reassessed the defence matrix in the eastern and central theatres to ensure the Chinese military can’t spring a surprise as the disengagement process drags on in Ladakh, ThePrint has learnt.
The disengagement process, which follows weeks of tensions triggered by Chinese incursions in May, has been progressing at a slow pace since it began last month.
India’s bid to take stock of the eastern and central sectors comes amid an assessment in security circles that China may use the disengagement process in Ladakh, which is expected to stretch into the winter, to spring a surprise along other sections of the border with India.
The border stretches overseen by the eastern and central commands comprise the two other sections of India’s boundary with China, along Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand (central section of the Line of Actual Control) and the northeast (eastern).
While India’s focus so far has been on eastern Ladakh, where over 30,000 additional soldiers and a vast array of equipment have been stationed since May, the deployment has been juggled in the eastern and central sectors too, sources said.
The all-powerful empowered committee, China Study Group, has conducted a fresh review of the forces’ preparedness in both sectors, they added.
According to them, forces in the east are already on what is termed “enhanced Border Management Posture (BMP)”, which is part of the escalation matrix factored in by the Army.
“The level of BMP differs from corps to corps and also sectors. It all depends on what the level of threat is,” a source in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint.
The forces in both these sectors had been put on operational alert earlier. While the Army was pursuing mirror deployment in Ladakh to counter the Chinese, the same was undertaken in the central and eastern sectors as well by the end of May and early June, sources said.
Army chief Gen M.M. Naravane, on Thursday and Friday, visited the eastern and the central commands, besides the northern command.
His visit comes amid increased Chinese aggression along the border in Sikkim. Ever since the clash at the LAC in Sikkim on 9 May, both sides have been maintaining increased troop presence there.
China is seeking to extend the LAC by a few metres and has also objected to a traditional grazers’ wall — used by grazers to keep their animals from straying too far away — on the Indian side.
However, India has stood its ground.
Sources said the Army chief’s visit was aimed at reviewing the defence matrix, and passing on any new instructions or views of the empowered committee.
India’s western sector on alert too
Sources said even India’s western sector, which oversees the Line of Control with Pakistan, has been put on operational alert as the border situation with China remains tense.
“It is not just the northern, central and the eastern sectors. which have been activated. Even the Western front has been put on operational alert,” said another source.
This has been done keeping in mind the possibility of a collusive threat from both China and Pakistan.
The situation in the east, sources said, is much less challenging than in Ladakh during the winter.
“The land routes in Ladakh close down during the winter, which becomes a huge hurdle for stocking and movement. This is not the case in the east, where the land routes are always open,” the source said.
Asked if additional soldiers from outside the eastern command have been brought in like in Ladakh, sources said deployment has been “juggled within the theatre”.
During his visit to the eastern command Thursday, Gen Naravane met with all the corps commanders, including that of the Panagarh-based Mountain Strike Corps.
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