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HomeDefenceSituation in eastern Ladakh still 'sensitive'. China, India deploy tanks, additional troops

Situation in eastern Ladakh still ‘sensitive’. China, India deploy tanks, additional troops

Sources described Indian move as 'tit-for-tat' action to dominate the entire southern bank of the Pangong Tso just as the Chinese troops have done on the northern banks.

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New Delhi: The situation in eastern Ladakh remains “sensitive” with both China and India deploying tanks and additional troops as the Indian Army did a “tit-for-tat” by dominating the “entire” southern bank of the Pangong Tso over the weekend, just as the Chinese troops have done on the northern banks, ThePrint has learnt.

Sources in the defence and security establishment, however, underlined that the Indian move was defensive in nature and at no place had the Indian Army crossed beyond its specified Line of Actual Control (LAC). 

They also underlined that the Chinese have not occupied heights within Indian perception of the LAC. 

The sources said it was late-night movement Saturday of Chinese tanks stationed in Moldo, opposite the Chushul sector, which made the Indian Army give the go-ahead to one of its specialised units to capture certain hilltops near the southern banks of the lake, claimed by both India and China as part of their territory. 

They described the Indian move as “tit-for-tat action” to dominate the entire southern bank of the Pangong Tso just as the Chinese troops have done with the northern banks.

The sources added that the Chinese have moved in tanks but are being equally matched by the Indian side near an area known as the Spanggur Gap and others.

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Advance of Chinese tanks limited

The advance of the Chinese tanks has been limited because India has occupied important heights in the area with Anti Tank Guided Missiles systems (ATGM) in place. 

“The situation remains sensitive. All necessary steps that need to be taken to ensure that defences are in place have been taken. The forces remain on a heightened state of alert,” a source said when asked about inputs that said additional artillery, tanks and equipment have been moved.

Explaining the military steps taken, a second source said, “The steps taken are defensive in nature and not offensive. The hilltops in question are within the Indian perception of the Line of Actual Control. Just like in the finger areas of the northern banks, these areas were not holding positions for us. But we now dominate the heights because our surveillance has picked up Chinese movement.”

Asked why China is claiming that India had crossed the LAC, the second source cited the example of the northern banks.

“In the northern banks, the LAC is at Finger 8 for us. However, when we move beyond Finger 4, the Chinese claim we have violated their territory as per their perception,” the source explained. “China has changed the status quo not by moving right until Finger 4 but by staying put and building up positions.”

As reported by ThePrint Monday, Indian forces outflanked the Chinese over the weekend and reached the summit of 4-5 hilltops, dominating the area around them.

These are about 10 km from the Chushul-Moldo meeting point, where Brigadier-level talks are under way for the third continuous day Tuesday.

India positions additional troops, equipment 

The Indian Army has pushed in additional men and equipment into the area including artillery, infantry combat vehicles and others as a precautionary measure.

The development came days after Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat spoke about India’s “military options” in the stand-off against China.

Government sources had said the Army has deployed troops in certain key areas, including Rezang La, and has carried out reconnaissance of other important heights in the vicinity. 

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”.

The Indian move has drawn a sharp verbal reaction from the Chinese military, with the Western Theatre Command of the PLA, which oversees borders with India, issuing a statement accusing the Indian Army of violating the consensus reached at the multi-level talks between both countries.

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