New Delhi: Days after Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat spoke about India’s “military options” in the stand-off against China, specialised elements of the Army have dominated at least four locations near the southern bank of the Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh, and now control certain passes in the hills under the Chushul sector, ThePrint has learnt.
Government sources said the Army deployed troops in certain key areas, including Rezang La, and carried out reconnaissance of other important heights in the vicinity.
The Army has also moved in additional troops, who have been brought in from the reserve columns which were deployed in eastern Ladakh after the stand-off with China began in early May.
Sources said domination of hilltops and passes in areas, claimed by both sides but where the Indians had the upper hand, was always part of India’s “military options”. However, there was no physical clash between the two sides, the sources said.
‘Anyone who holds the heights has the upper hand’
The Army has issued a statement saying that on the night of 29 August, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo.
Indian troops pre-empted this PLA activity on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso, undertook measures to strengthen positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground, it said.
The statement added that the Indian Army is committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity through dialogue, but is also equally determined to protect its territorial integrity.
Elaborating on the Army statement, a source said after picking up intelligence about Chinese movement at around 11 pm Saturday to capture fresh territory in the cover of darkness, Indian troops moved in faster and occupied the heights that are claimed by both countries.
“The Chinese had planned to capture these heights which would have given them an advantage. In such terrain, anyone who has the heights holds the upper hand,” the source said.
Sources said the demand within a certain section in the defence and security establishment was that India should dominate heights and passes in locations where it can, in order to counter China’s aggression in other areas.
Even though formal talks between the two sides have not made any headway since July, China continues with its massive military build-up along the LAC, which includes construction of new heliports and surface-to-air missiles sites.