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China-India border dispute: Indian Army gears up for a long haul in Ladakh

China-India border dispute: Indian Army gears up for a long haul in Ladakh
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Within hours of his return from Ladakh, Army Chief Gen M M Naravane on Wednesday briefed the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on what would be the Army’s requirement in case the stand-off stretches as forces have now geared up for a long haul.

Notwithstanding the pullback of some of the men and equipment in the Galwan valley, the Indian Army is wary of the Chinese game plan with officials observing that it may take weeks and months before the status quo is restored in eastern Ladakh, which is on the boil for the last 50 days.

During his two and half-day stay at Ladakh, Gen Naravane received detailed briefs from local commanders, visited two forward locations on more than 800 km long frontage of the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and met the soldiers who fought valiantly with the Chinese troops.

In his one-hour-long meeting, the Army Chief appraised the Defence Minister about the outcomes of the Corps Commander level meeting on June 22 and the withdrawal plans once the disengagement starts.

But he also conveyed to the minister on the Army’s requirement if the stand-off continues for a long time, which looks like a real possibility at the moment.

While Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops are heavily present at the Galwan valley and Depsang bulge in the north, it is the Finger areas on the northern banks of Pangong lake that would pose the biggest troubles for India.

The PLA now not only prevents the Indian troops at Finger 4 – earlier Indian troops used to patrol up to Finger 8 through which Indian perception of the LAC runs – but also constructed pillboxes (temporary weapon storage) among other structures on the northern banks of the 135 km long pristine lake.

Chinese dominance of the Depsang bulge, on the other hand, would compromise the 255 km long Darbuk-Shyok-DBO road, which is crucial to maintain the supply in Sub-Sector North and Daulat Beg Oldie, the world’s highest airfield operated by the Indian Air Force.

As the border situation remains tense, the IAF continues with its combat patrolling in Ladakh with Chinook and Apache helicopters and Su-30MKI and MiG-29 fighter jets.

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