Days after China’s “provocative actions” in the Pangong lake area in eastern Ladakh, the situation in the region remained sensitive on Wednesday while army commanders from both sides held another round of talks to defuse tensions, government sources said. The army of the two countries held Brigade Commander-level talks in Chushul with a focus on bringing down tensions in the Pangong lake area, they said, adding similar dialogue on Monday and Tuesday, each lasting over six hours, did not produce any “tangible outcome”.
Sources said India has achieved tactical gains in eastern Ladakh in the last few days by occupying a number of strategically important hilltops and locations.
On Monday, the Indian Army said the Chinese military carried out “provocative military movements” to “unilaterally” change the status quo on the southern bank of Pangong Lake on the intervening night of August 29 and 30 but the attempt was thwarted by the Indian troops.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava on Tuesday said the Chinese PLA was engaged in “provocative action” again on Monday when the ground commanders of the two sides were holding talks to ease the situation following China’s attempt to change the status quo in the Pangong lake area two days back.
“The situation in the area remained sensitive,” said a source.
The two sides were earlier engaged in a confrontation on the northern bank of Pangong lake but it was for the first time such an incident occurred on its southern bank, they said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday carried out a comprehensive review of the situation in eastern Ladakh at a high-level meeting attended by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Army Chief Gen MM Naravane and Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria.
It was decided at the nearly two-hour meeting that the Indian Army will continue to maintain its aggressive posturing in all sensitive areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to effectively deal with any Chinese “misadventure”, the sources said.
They said the Indian Army has further bolstered its presence around the Southern Bank area of Pangong lake by deploying additional troops and bringing in more weaponry including tanks and anti-tank guided missiles.
A battalion of the Special Frontier Force was also deployed in the area.
The sources said the Indian Air Force (IAF) has also been told to enhance its surveillance on increasing Chinese air activities along the LAC in eastern Ladakh.
There have been reports that China has deployed J-20 long-range fighter jets and several other key assets in strategically located Hotan airbase which is around 310 kms from eastern Ladakh.
In the last three months, the IAF deployed almost all its frontline fighter jets like Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar and Mirage 2000 aircraft in the key frontier air bases in eastern Ladakh and elsewhere along the LAC.
The fresh attempt by China to change the status quo in the Pangong lake area is the first major incident in the area after the Galwan Valley clashes on June 15 in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed.
China also suffered casualties but is yet to make the details public. According to an American intelligence report, it was 35.
India and China have held several rounds of military and diplomatic talks in the last two-and-half months but no significant headway has been made for a resolution to the border row in eastern Ladakh.