New Delhi: Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General Y.K. Joshi Tuesday reached Ladakh to review the situation amid growing tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which has forced the Army to move in about two additional division strength-level forces into the region, ThePrint has learnt.
Sources said most of the troops who were moved over the past few weeks have finished their acclimatisation and have been deployed to counter the Chinese build-up along the Galwan Valley, larger Hot Spring Area and the Finger Area of the Pangong Lake.
The brigades that have been moved from at least three different locations into Ladakh also have elements of artillery. Support elements have also been sent.
While the 14 Corps, the Army division that looks after Ladakh, is sufficiently armed in terms of artillery, armour, men and reserves, more soldiers have been brought in to create large reserves and forward deployment.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has also increased its flying in Ladakh with a mix of Sukhoi and Mirages even as the Chinese have increased flying on their side.
“What is happening is mirror deployment. The Chinese have a troop build-up and we too are more than adequately placed,” a source said.
Even though the build-up is there, as reported by ThePrint earlier, the focus is on finding an “amicable solution” through talks.
Talks are being carried out through established channels, both at military level as well as the Army level.
Sources said while the situation in Galwan and the larger Host Spring area is “under control”, the main problem lies around Pangong Lake.
The 134 km of Pangong Lake’s northern bank juts out like a palm, and the various protrusions are identified as ‘fingers’.
The Chinese have come between the disputed area between Finger 3 and 4 and have dug up a moat-like construction with troop build-up to prevent Indians from patrolling further.
The dispute lies in the fact that India claims the LAC is at Finger 8 while the Chinese say it is at Finger 2.
Northern Commander visits Ladakh
Lt Gen Joshi flew into Ladakh early Tuesday morning and is scheduled to hold a series of meetings with the commanders there, including 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen Harinder Singh, who was the Director General Military Intelligence before taking over the crucial Ladakh command in October last year.
Lt Gen Singh’s first visit after taking over was to Eastern Ladakh.
Lt Gen Joshi, a Kargil war hero, was the 14 Corps Commander before Lt Gen Singh. He was the Chief of Staff in the Northern Command before becoming the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, this February.
While it was not immediately known if he will be visiting forward locations, this is his second visit to the region after tensions broke out. He had earlier accompanied Army Chief General M.M. Naravane, who had made a quiet visit on 22 May.
Talks on but no change in ground situation
While several rounds of talks have been held between India and China, the ground situation remains the same.
Sources said the Chinese have built up a large number of troops on its side, which includes artillery and armoured units.
As reported by ThePrint earlier, they were diverted from a massive exercise that was being held.
According to protocol, both armies are supposed to inform each other about any exercise that is being held near the LAC. The Indian Army also carries out an exercise in early summer, which was delayed this year due to the Covid pandemic.
Chinese build-up and transgressions
With regard to Galwan Valley, sources say the Chinese build-up is in their territory and they have not crossed the Chinese Claim Line (CCL). In Galwan Valley, the CCL and the LAC are the same.
However, the forward movement by the Chinese has put the Shyok-DBO road, inaugurated last year by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, under stress.
This road is at least 10 km inside the LAC at several points, and runs perpendicular to the Galwan river. To connect this road to the LAC, India was constructing feeder roads. This included a bridge over a rivulet, near the confluence of the Shyok and Galwan rivers.
The Chinese were peeved at these construction activities because it will enable the Indian forces to reach the LAC faster with men and equipment, which changes the equation between both countries.
Army sources admitted that the Chinese have transgressed in the larger Hot Spring Area by about 3 km and the Finger Area, but have not crossed the CCL.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.