NEW DELHI: The Army has further strengthened its positions in eastern
, as well as in other sectors right till
, with an angry China pushing hard for Indian troops to vacate the heights they proactively occupied in the Pangong Tso-Chushul area over the weekend.
The military consolidation includes occupying the heights over the ‘Finger-2 and 3’ (mountainous spurs) on the north bank of
to prevent any aggressive action by
, who have refused to withdraw eastwards from the 8-km stretch they have occupied from ‘Finger-4’ to ‘Finger-8’ since early May.
“With operational tensions running high, our soldiers have taken to the corresponding heights facing the ridgeline occupied by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) over ‘Finger-4’ and beyond to the east,” a senior officer said on Wednesday.
“This precautionary readjustment was required since the earlier deployment at the level of the lake was not tactically defendable. The ridgeline ranges from 14,000 to 17,000 feet in the area.
is all about controlling the dominating heights,” he added.
LAC stand-off: Live updates
Amid this jostling for heights, India is also keeping track of major PLA build-up in the strategically-located Depsang-Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) sector to the north. A table-top plateau close to the critical Karakoram Pass, Depsang is, in fact, militarily much more important than Pangong Tso.
But the action as of now is in the
sector. For the third day running at the brigade commander-level meeting, the PLA expressed anger at the Indian military manoeuvre to seize multiple heights near the southern bank of Pangong Tso, Rezang La, Reqin La and Spanggur Gap on August 29-30, officials said.
PLA has reasons to be incensed. The previously unoccupied heights, to the south of Pangong Tso, taken by the well-armed and equipped Indian soldiers overlook crucial Chinese positions, while also foreclosing PLA options for further ingress into Indian territory.
The Reqin La or the Renchin mountain pass, for instance, is one of the dozen or so possible routes for PLA forces to invade Ladakh. The heights in the area, largely unoccupied since the 1962 war, are located close to Spanggur Gap and overlook the Moldo military garrison of China, where the PLA has deployed additional forces and tanks.
“Our soldiers have now dug into positions on the heights, which are within our perception of the Line of Actual Control, with all requisite weapons like anti-tank guided missiles and equipment to defend the area,” a senior officer said.
Similarly, after being presented with a fait accompli on the north bank of Pangong Tso since early May, Indian soldiers have now climbed to the dominating heights over their Dhan Singh Thapa post between ‘Finger-2’ and ‘Finger-3’. “Enough forces have been deployed and moved up to set up posts,” another officer said.
The PLA has built scores of fortifications and gun positions in the 8-km stretch from Finger-4 to Finger-8, where India says the LAC runs north to south. “The PLA has been making the clearly untenable demand for our troops to withdraw westwards beyond Finger-2,” he added.