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Massive Chinese build-up on north bank of Pangong lake

Big bird:A Globemaster C17 aircraft of the IAF flying in the skies of Ladakh on Wednesday.ANI  

As Indian troops are engaged in a stand-off on the south bank of Pangong Tso (lake) for the past week, a massive build-up had again begun in the Finger area of the north bank, a senior government official told The Hindu .

The ground commanders met on Wednesday to resolve the stalemate but it remained inconclusive. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had occupied the ridge lines and amassed troops on the north bank, where Fingers 4-8 are located, the official said.

There was a worrying concentration of troops on both sides, with China dominating the area, the official noted.

The development comes a day before the Foreign Ministers of both countries are expected to meet in Moscow on the sidelines of a meeting of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

As reported, China has ingressed about 8 km in the Finger area of the north bank. India has not been able to patrol beyond Finger 4 since April last week when China amassed troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

Earlier, Indian troops could patrol up to Finger 8.

Several rounds of meetings at the military and diplomatic levels have not yielded any results. China partially retreated to Finger 5 and as per the agreement, Indian troops were pulled back to Finger 2.

‘China dominating area’

“China is dominating the ridges in the Finger area of Pangong Tso for the past four months. Since last evening, it has rushed additional forces. We have had no option but to match the presence,” said the official.

The build-up on the north bank comes even as the attention has shifted to areas south of the lake, where for the past week, the Indian Army has been dominating the ridges and hills in the Chushul area. For the first time in 45 years, aerial shots were fired along the disputed LAC. The Indian Army said on Tuesday that Chinese troops fired some rounds in the air on September 7, as they attempted to close in on one of India’s forward positions and “intimidate” troops deployed there to dislodge them.

Brigade Commander-level talks were held at Chushul on Wednesday in the wake of Monday’s firing incident which, a defence source said, were routine ground-level talks to de-escalate the situation. Both sides agreed to hold another round of Corps Commander-level talks, for which the date was yet to be finalised, the source added.

China has repeated its accusations of India firing first. A Chinese source said that during the talks, both sides agreed that there should not be further incidents of firing.

Tensions have been high since August 29, when Chinese troops engaged in “provocative action” trying to change the status quo on the south bank, which forced India to take pre-emptive moves. India has since occupied the key heights in the area.