NEW DELHI: There is still some lack of clarity about the exact ground situation in
the Galwan Valley
region of eastern Ladakh. But there is little doubt that
have built dozens of new fortifications and bunkers after physically occupying an almost 8-km stretch of what India considers its own territory along the Pangong Tso since early-May.
Chinese troops have also taken control of the heights to dominate ‘Finger-4 to 8’ (mountainous spurs) area on the north bank of Pangong Tso, adroitly utilising the time when bilateral military talks were underway on the troop confrontations at Patrolling Points 14, 15 and 17 in the Galwan Valley and Gogra-Hot Springs areas.
Official sources on Saturday said
the Indian Army
is now “holding” the area near PP-14 in the Galwan Valley region, which was the location of the bloody skirmish that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and 76 injured on June 15. After the clash, the Army said, "Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged at the Galwan area where they had earlier clashed on the night of 15/16 June 2020."
“The two rival armies are more or less on their own sides of the line of actual control (LAC) in the Galwan region. But there is no disengagement (in the broader sense), with military build-ups being present on both sides,” said an official source.
The troop confrontation on the north bank of Pangong Tso, located at an altitude of 13,900-feet across the Changla Pass, is much more serious. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA), after a clash between rival troops there on May 5-6, has been consistently blocking all Indian patrols going west to east from Finger-4 to 8 area, as TOI has been reporting since last month.
maps show the LAC runs north to south at Finger-8. With an ITBP post between Finger-3 and Finger-4, our patrols have been going up to Finger-8 for years. But the PLA has been refusing to discuss its occupation from Finger-4 to 8 since early last month,” said a senior officer.
In 1999, while India’s attention was diverted during the Kargil conflict with Pakistan, China had surreptitiously built a dirt track reaching up to Finger-4 area from its rear bases to the east at Sirijap-1 and 2. Subsequently, the PLA also black-topped it.
“PLA troops, often in vehicles from their post at Finger-8 and Sirijap, used to patrol in the area. But they had never physically occupied the area even though they claimed it till Finger-2,” said the officer.
“But now, they have built a series of defences from Finger-4 to 8, while also occupying the heights. It will be difficult to dislodge them from there,” he added. India obviously wants a return to status quo ante, with the PLA’s pulling-back from the “Finger 4” area and demolishing all its fortifications there, but that will take some doing.