Army moves tanks of 3 divisions to Ladakh sector
The inscriptions, located between ‘Finger 4’ and ‘Finger 5’ measure approximately 81 metres in length and 25 metres in breadth and are large enough to be clearly spotted by passing imagery satellites. Earlier this week, Wang Hajiang, the overall commander of Chinese forces in Tibet was photographed repainting the character of ‘China’ in a frontier position along the India-China boundary.
The problem peculiar to this place is China’s perception of the LAC is at Finger 4 and our perception is at Finger 8. The Fingers [mountain spurs] are numbered 1 to 8, from west to east. So, there is a distance of 8 km where the entire conflict has been happening. Our post is between Finger 2 and 3, which is well connected by a road from depth areas. There is a track to 1 km short of Finger 4, but it ends there. After that, it’s only a foot track.
The three army divisions sent to build the necessary military strength to deter possible aggressive moves by the Chinese forces deployed across the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) account for up to 30,000 well-trained soldiers, as high-altitude deployments are being bolstered with sharp focus on contingency planning, said the first person cited above.
A large number of the troop reinforcements sent to Ladakh have been drawn from the army’s reserve formations, based in a mountainous region in north India and another state in the Hindi-speaking belt. These reserve troops have operated in the sector as part of their regular training, said the person quoted above. Soldiers may also have been pulled out from peace stations for the Ladakh role, he added.
‘Fingers’ in the region refers to the spurs which extend to the banks of the high-altitude Pangong Lake. India believes it has the right to patrol from ‘Finger 1’ to ‘Finger 8’ while China believes it has rights to patrol from ‘Finger 8’ to ‘Finger 4’. At the moment, ‘Finger 4’ is the boundary between the two sides after violent skirmishes between soldiers of both sides in May in which dozens of Indian soldiers were attacked with weapons such as batons wrapped with barbed wire. Chinese forces, deployed in significant numbers at ‘Finger 4’ no longer permit Indian soldiers from patrolling in the direction of ‘Finger 8’.
They have been sensitive to our presence in this area because they felt they built the road, and they dominated up to Finger 4. They do not want us to come to Finger 8 frequently, so some times they stop us. As per agreements, when stopped, you cannot bypass them. We reciprocate, and stop them before they come to Finger 4. For many years, it was a one-man show and they were dominating. Only in the past 7 or 8 years we have started pushing our infrastructure so our presence has increased. What [encounters] used to happen once or twice a month, is now on an almost daily basis.
“The Chinese military has flexed its muscle with its buildup at the point of impact, as also in depth areas on their side of the LAC. Due to China’s belligerence, it is axiomatic that we should have desired combat ratios to offset possible evil designs,” said Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (retd), a former Northern Army commander. He added that India’s military posture would enable it to talk to the Chinese from a position of strength.
India has also deployed its air defence weapon systems to counter possible aerial threats from the PLA-Air Force in the Ladakh sector where tensions rose sharply after a brutal clash in Galwan Valley left 20 Indian and an unconfirmed number of Chinese troops dead on June 15. The IAF has raised its guard to deal with any military provocation by the Chinese forces and forward bases have been ordered to be on their highest state of alert, said the fourth person.