BY SUMIT KUMAR SINGH
New Delhi, Sep 18 (IANS) Despite the Indian and Chinese foreign ministers agreeing to reduce tensions along the disputed border, both the countries troops are in rifle range at four locations at Pangong Lake in Eastern Ladakh, a senior official in the security establishment said.
Worryingly, the eyeball-to-eyeball deployment, at least in one place, is at a place where troops had disengaged previously after military-level talks. And the fresh eyeball-to-eyeball deployment comes at a time when China is yet to indicate the date for the next senior military-level talks.
“At these places, troops and materials are just a few hundred meters away,” the source said, adding they are at three locations on the southern bank of the lake and one on the northern bank.
On the north bank, the troops are facing each other between Finger 3 and Finger 4 where warning shots were fired in the air by both the armies. On the south bank of the lake, the troops are only a few meters apart at Spanggur Gap, Mukhpari and Rezang La.
China made the first provocative military moves, after which India too deployed its troops at these locations. At these two places, both the countries’ troops have fired warning shots to intimidate each other.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army made attempts to occupy the area between Finger 3 and 4 earlier this month which led to the firing of around 200 shots in the air. Thereafter, both the armies are now a few hundred meters apart. The mountain spurs jutting into the lake are referred to as ‘Fingers’ in military parlance.
The PLA troops armed with spears and guns again tried to start a medieval-style fight similar to the June 14 clash at Galwan Valley, in which 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers died. In the confrontation, shots were fired for the first time in 45 years along the Line of Actual Control.
It was after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi reached an agreement in Moscow that the situation has calmed down a bit at the borders.
India has asked China to completely withdraw its troops from Pangong Tso. But China has refused to budge.
Both the countries are engaged in the current four-month-long standoff at the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh. Despite several levels of dialogue, there has not been any breakthrough and the deadlock continues.
Chinese aggression started increasing along the LAC and more particularly in Galwan Valley since May 5. The Chinese side transgressed in the areas of Kugrang Nala, Gogra and the north bank of Pangong Lake on May 17 and May 18.
(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at email@example.com)