Forces allowed to "respond adequately", situation tense along LAC
A week after China's People's Liberation Army attempted to change the status quo at the Galwan Valley, the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) continues to be tense. At the outset, de-escalation seems like a far-fetched idea. Meanwhile, India has deployed more troops, activated airbases, and put the navy on standby. Here are more details.
Background: China attacked Indian troops, 20 soldiers were martyred
The situation along LAC had been tense since May after Beijing launched a protest against New Delhi's infrastructure push in the tough terrain. On June 15-16, PLA attacked Indian soldiers with rods, boulders, and other sharp objects, just as the latter hoped they would retreat. In the clash, the most violent one in decades, 20 soldiers were martyred and another 76 injured.
Talks were launched, forces were put on alert too
While conversations were launched at diplomatic and military levels to resolve the tensions through dialogue, India isn't leaving anything to chance. Indian officials in the know told HT that though no clash has been reported since the Galwan episode, PLA is gradually increasing the troops. Similarly, army positions in Xinjiang and Tibet regions were also beefed up by New Delhi.
China's position has hindered de-escalation, feel officials
The report added that the situation on the ground is no different than on the day of the clash. Reportedly, both armies aren't thinking about de-escalation, contradicting the conclusions of the June 6 meeting. "The situation has cooled to a little extent, but de-escalation appears to be a long haul due to the position China has taken on the Galwan Valley," a diplomat said.
China claimed entire Galwan Valley, India rejected its theories
Last week, Beijing claimed the entire Galwan Valley, saying PLA troops have been patrolling the area for decades. Rejecting this, the Ministry of External Affairs said that the position has been "historically clear". "Attempts by the Chinese side to now advance exaggerated and untenable claims with regard to Line of Actual Control (LAC) there are not acceptable," MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava announced.
Separately, rules of engagement with the Chinese were changed
Meanwhile, the Indian Army is learned to have changed the rules of engagement along the 3,488km-long LAC, a departure from earlier directives. Due to the agreements signed in 1996 and 2005, none of the sides are allowed to open fire or use explosives within 2 kilometer of LAC. But after the deadly clash, military commanders were empowered to sanction firearms' usage in "extraordinary circumstances".
Rajnath Singh told top brass: Troops have "freedom to respond"
Yesterday, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh met the top brass of the forces, telling them that while India wants peace, troops have the full freedom to respond if the other side escalates the situation. "India does not want escalation, but if there is any action from China, the forces have been given the freedom to give a befitting reply," sources told IE about the meeting.
Infrastructure won't stop, despite China's protests
Further, the government also said the construction projects, which China objected to in Eastern Ladakh, would continue. In the meeting, Singh was informed that the "army's preparedness is high". Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an all-party meet, said the soldiers died while defending Indian territories. He asserted India was capable of giving a befitting reply.