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SOURCE: THE PRINT

The Army has started drawing up a summer strategy in Ladakh, and is looking at greater permanent deployment of troops in the area with no immediate resolution in sight to the ongoing tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), ThePrint has learnt.

“The talks are on between both sides but China is sticking to its position that we should withdraw from the southern banks of Pangong Tso. We are of the view that disengagement should happen from all locations concerned simultaneously,” said a government source.

“We are prepared for the winter if China wants to stay, and we are also working out the summer strategy,” the source added.

Top government sources said Indian forces will at no point carry out any reduction in current troop deployment in forward areas unless China agrees to do the same. Any Chinese move, they added, will be subject to a proper verification process that will have to be decided by both sides.

This is so because at some points where the two armies are locked in a stand-off, the Indians need more time to reach the location than the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which has better road connectivity and the advantage of plains on their side, the sources said.

“We can’t afford a situation where we pull back, only for the Chinese to come back and occupy the positions. In some locations, we need more time to reach the positions where we are on than the Chinese who, can reach in a shorter time,” the source said.

At many locations along the LAC, the troops of the two countries are just a few hundred metres apart.

With no easing of tensions at the border despite multiple rounds of dialogue, India and China are already set for a heavy deployment in the forward areas of Ladakh through the region’s bitter winter, where the temperatures can drop to -35°C. Forward deployment through the Ladakh winter will be a first for both India and China.

The 7th round of corps commander-level talks is scheduled for 12 October, but the military is not pinning high hopes on it, as before. This is the first round of talks since China raked up the 1959 claim line as the LAC last month.

‘India prepared for winter’
Talking about the plan ahead, government sources said the Chinese have come prepared to stay during the winter.

Giving details about the Indian preparations, the sources added that the Army has made all arrangements for the winter, with “some smaller issues left to be tied up”.

“Clothing, heated tents, food and other rations have all been taken care of. There might be some small challenges here and there, but then the Army will take care of it as days pass,” the aforementioned source said.

Referring to plans for increased deployment through the summer, or the “LoC-isation” of the LAC, another source said, “This increase does not mean creation of new division or anything but in terms of more battalions or a brigade more along with their equipment.”

Sources said there has been a renewed focus on increasing our capabilities along the LAC because of the aggression shown by the Chinese since May.

“We are determined to push ahead with the infrastructure activity. If anything, we have only sped up the process. Along with it, the Army in Ladakh is being provided with everything that they are demanding,” said a third source. “A spate of emergency procurement is being done which would have otherwise taken time.”