Separated by only a few metres, over a thousand men stand on each side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at present, days after India and Chinese troops engaged in a fierce, fatal clash in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh.
With a show of strength from both sides in Galwan at Patrol Point (PP) 14, at the Pangong Tso, another flashpoint, the situation on the ground remains volatile in Ladakh as Indian and Chinese armies continue the ferocious build-up at the LAC. The build-up is backed by artillery and tanks in the depth areas.
“Nothing has changed on the ground. After the June 15 clash, no violence has happened but things are very tense as a huge deployment from both sides continues in Galwan and Pangon Tso,” said an official privy to the developments.
Sources say though no fresh clash has broken out after June 15, there is a trust deficit. In these circumstances, a pull back or disengagement looks unlikely, the sources add.
INDIA EXPLORING ALL MILITARY OPTIONS
In the midst of growing tensions, India is exploring all possible military options as a response if the Chinese aggression continues, the sources said.
This could mean launching special operations to push the Chinese back particularly at Pangong Lake, where the Chinese army is camping at Finger 4 that was under Indian control.
Other option could be to do a similar build-up in other sectors along the LAC that could help negotiate the Ladakh situation.
A series of military dialogues did not yield any results to end the deadlock. Instead, escalation took place at a time when the talks were on. This escalation happened as Indian troops destroyed an observation post built by the Chinese on the Indian side in Galwan.
PANGONG LAKE: FLASHPOINT
The prolonged camping and a heavy presence of the Chinese troops in Pangong Lake in Ladakh at a point that has been under Indian control has emerged to be the biggest roadblock for a possible resolution to the ongoing tussle between India and China at the LAC.
The Chinese have built defences in several parts between Finger 4 and 8 — a grey zone in the past. The Chinese action in Pangong Lake is seen as an attempt to change the status quo.
Sources said Chinese troops in large numbers have been camping at Finger 4 area of the Pangong Lake, but are being matched in deployment from the Indian side.
The lake is divided into eight fingers. In military parlance, the mountainous spurs jutting out into the lake are referred to as fingers.
Traditionally, India has been controlling Fingers 1 to 4 and China controls till 8. However, India has claimed the entire stretch till Finger 8.
There is even an Indian post near Finger 4.
The area between Finger 4 and 8 has been a matter of dispute and has often witnessed confrontations when patrol teams face-off here.
ARMED FORCES ‘GIVEN FREE HAND’
In the wake of current situation, India has taken some tactical decisions to ensure a repeat of the June 15 situation does not arise.
If caught in a life-threatening situation, the Indian Army has been told not to hesitate in using firearms against any Chinese aggression like the one that took place in Galwan on June 15.
The government has made it clear to the army that field commanders are fee to take these tactical calls after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action in Ladakh at the LAC.
According to protocols decided by the two countries, the use of firearms is prohibited.
Sources said if lives of soldiers are in danger and they come under a murderous assault like in Galwan in Ladakh, these protocols can’t be followed. “If firing is self defence is the only option, then no protocol can be followed,” said a government source.
A controversy had erupted over the fact that Indian troops did not fire despite carrying weapons when they clashed with the Chinese soldiers on the evening of June 15.
The Chinese were armed with iron rods, nailed studded clubs and stones to target the Indian troops.
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