In an escalation of the ongoing standoff on the border in Ladakh, Chinese troops carried out aggressive moves on the night of August 29 to change the status quo on the South Bank of Pangong Tso and those attempts have been thwarted, the Army said on Monday.
Responding to this, China accused the Indian army of “illegally crossing the line” on August 31 at two points, at the south bank of Pangong Lake and near the Reqinmountain pass (near Rezang La), and "blatantly provoked and caused tension on the border”.
“On the night of August 29/30 2020, PLA troops violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in Eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo,” the Army said in a statement. Indian troops pre-empted this PLA activity on the Southern Bank of the Pangong Tso Lake, undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground, the Army said.
A Brigade Commander-level flag meeting was in progress at Chushul to resolve the issues, the Army said adding, they were committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity through dialogue, but was also equally determined to protect its territorial integrity.
The Army is not sharing any operational details at this point to maintain operational security. A defence source said that there was movement by PLA troops in the Chushul sector following which the Indian Army too repositioned its troops as a precaution to foil any misadventure. Around 25 PLA soldiers intruding across the LAC and were blocked by Indian troops, a defence source said. Around 100 PLA soldiers were also seen below Black Top hill just across the LAC, the source added. There was no physical clash, a second source stated.
There is already massive build up of troops in the area by both the sides. The area had witnessed pitched battles during the 1962 war.
Commenting on the incident, spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Zhao Lijian said in Beijing, “Chinese border troops always strictly abide by the LAC. They never cross the line. Border troops on the two sides have been in close communication regarding the issues on the ground”.
Mr. Zhao did not directly respond to a question on the meeting under way at Chushul to resolve the issue. “What I said is that the two sides through diplomatic and military channels maintain close communication,” he stated.
The standoff in Ladakh has been ongoing since early May and several rounds of military and diplomatic talks have failed to end the impasse. China has undertaken massive mobilisation along the LAC, and PLA troops have built structures inside Indian territory at several locations.
The first phase of disengagement undertaken in early July remains incomplete with disengagement completed at Galwan valley and Patrolling Point (PP) 15 in Gogra-Hot springs area. However, only limited disengagement has been undertaken at PP 17A in Gogra-Hot springs and it has barely begun at Pangong Tso. Chinese troops have only moved back from the base of Finger 4, the mountain spur, to Finger 5 but remain to occupy the ridgelines of Finger 4 where India’s claim extends till Finger 8, while it has always held till Finger 4.
Capt Dikshant Thapa passed away on August 30 in an accident near Karu after an infantry vehicle toppled from a trailer on to him, an Army source said.
While loading a BMP, the civil truck rammed the trailer due to which it toppled and he died on the spot, the source said adding this is unrelated to the action in the South Bank of Pangong Tso.