Indian Army’s occupation of three hilltops claimed by Chinese on the south bank of Pangong Lake is what has riled up China after People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops enhanced deployment close to India’s Thakung base and made attempts to change status quo.
While China has accused India of crossing the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian Army has denied this.
Taking over these hilltops was important to keep the Chinese troops in check as they increased their deployment in areas close to ‘Black Top’ and ‘Helmet’ at LAC on the south bank of LAC threatening fresh incursions to change status quo. By holding these mountain tops, the Indian Army enjoys an advantageous position.
At the Brigade Commander-level talks between the two armies taking place over the last two days, China is said to have raised the issue of Indian troops fortifying their positions on these hilltops.
At the same time, India has raised concerns about Chinese mobilisation close to the Indian base at Thakung.
Chinese embassy in India claimed that Indian troops trespassed the LAC near the southern bank of the lake in an area called Reqin Pass or Rechin La.
If India is indeed holding on to Rechin La as claimed by China, it means Indian troops are about 3 km inside the Chinese territory. Rechin La is about 2.5 to 3 km from Rezang La, which is on LAC on the Indian side.
Chinese embassy spokesperson said, “On August 31, Indian troops violated the consensus reached in previous multi-level engagements and negotiations between China and India, illegally trespassed the Line of Actual Control again at the southern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake and near the Reqin Pass in the western sector of China-India border, and conducted flagrant provocations, which again stirred tension in the border areas,”
Indian Army, meanwhile, remains tight-lipped about details of the operation launched on August 31 to take over the heights under Chinese control.
India and China have been involved in a standoff since early May with several skirmishes taking place but there has been no use of firearms despite casualties on both sides.
While India has said 20 Indian Army personnel were killed in a clash at Galwan on June 15, China has not made its losses public.
New Friction Points
Sources said new friction points have emerged in the south bank of the lake that had till now remained calm since the standoff between Indian and Chinese armies started in Ladakh in early May in several locations along the LAC.
The Indian Army had enhanced it surveillance and was carrying out constant reconnaissance missions that led to the timely detection of Chinese mobilisation in the southern bank of the Pangong Lake, officials said.
Sources said Indian Army took pre-emptive measures enduring the Chinese army cannot change status quo like they have done in the finger area of the lake and made similar attempts in some other friction points.
“There was no physical contact or brawl like the ones that have happened before,” said an Indian Army official.
The Indian Army issued a statement on August 31 stating that PLA troops on August 29-30 violated the previous consensus agreed in military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo.
“Indian troops pre-empted this PLA activity on the southern bank of Pangong lake, and undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on the ground,” it said.
Officials said Chinese troops attempted to take over some of the strategic heights like they have done in the finger area on the north bank but they were intercepted due to surveillance and intelligence inputs and the advancement was stopped.
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