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SOURCE: THE PRINT

Braving inclement weather, Indian troops are “well entrenched” to counter any misadventure by Chinese forces in eastern Ladakh, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said, underlining that the Army is prepared for any eventuality.

In its annual report, the ministry has added that the unilateral and provocative actions by the Chinese to change the status quo by force, in more than one area along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), were given a response in “a firm and non-escalatory way, ensuring the sanctity of our claims in eastern Ladakh”.

“Braving inclement weather, own troops continue to be deployed on these heights. Advance Winter Stocking (AWS) and winter preparations for the enhanced strength has been completed and troops are well entrenched to counter any misadventure by Chinese forces,” it said.

“While the Indian Army is prepared for any eventuality, talks are also progressing to resolve the issue in an amicable manner.”

The Army, it said, has maintained all protocols and agreements between the two countries while the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) escalated the situation by using “unorthodox weapons” and amassing large numbers of troops.

The MoD’s reference was to the PLA’s use of clubs and nail-embedded sticks as well as iron rods with machete-like heads in multiple skirmishes with Indian soldiers in Ladakh, including the Galwan Valley clash of 15 June.

“In a major skirmish in Galwan, 20 brave Indian soldiers lost their lives while preventing PLA troops from ingressing into our territory. The Chinese also suffered significant casualties,” it said.

It also noted that on 28-29 August 2020, Indian troops, in “a precautionary deployment”, preempted Chinese expansionist designs and occupied heights along the southern bank of Pangong Tso.

IAF’s role lauded

According to the Ministry of Defence report, released on 1 January, India has categorically conveyed to China that any attempt to unilaterally alter the status quo at the border is unacceptable and that India is determined to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Talking about the mobilisation effort, the ministry added that the Army, with assistance from the Indian Air Force (IAF), mobilised troops, including accretionary forces, in a very short duration, besides heavy equipment like guns, tanks and ammunition, rations and clothing.

Complimenting the IAF, the report said heavy-airlift assets proved their mettle by mobilising huge quantum of war-waging machinery along with battle-ready troops in the Northern Sector in quick time frames, thereby “altering the dynamics of the force posturing”.

The IAF, it said, not only deployed its transport fleet but also deployed attack helicopters and fighters in the Ladakh sector.

“Own engineers constructed roads, accommodation shelters and bridges to assist troop deployment,” it added. 

There have so far been eight rounds of military talks at the Corps Commander-level to find a solution to the stand-off that started early-May, but the stalemate continues, with thousands of troops deployed in forward areas through the cold Ladakh winter.