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Chinese drive up to border, Indians walk for 19 hours

Taking a leaf out of the 70-day Doklam standoff, the Indian Army had immediately ordered movement of troops to the McMahon Line in Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh after Chinese road building workers and machinery were spotted by a porter on December 28.

However, the soldiers had to walk for 19 hours to reach the point of incursion.

As many as 120 Army personnel were deployed on the border with ration that could last 30 days. With no roads to the border and no animal transport at disposal, the Indian Army pressed into service a company of 300 porters that was raised long back to carry ration for the soldiers.

"The initial reading was that the Chinese might be planning to open up another area of dispute after Doklam. We were certain that it would be a long haul, especially after the Doklam standoff, and moved our troops immediately on December 28," said a defence source.

On the other hand, personnel of Chinese PLA, who had come to the point for a flag meeting on January 6, drove right till the border. The issue was resolved instantly and the Chinese men returned along with machinery that was damaged by the locals.

The Chinese civilian workers, who had come for the road building work, had fled leaving the machinery after they were spotted by the locals. "But what if they had come back with the Chinese PLA in large numbers? We had to take immediate preventive measures and our first task was to stock our resources. But there were challenges and difficulties," the source said.

To cope with the initial hours before the porters arrived, the Army airdropped 100 packets of ready-to-eat meals and 30,000 packets of chocolates as a source of energy for survival in the cold and rugged heights of the LAC.

"Initially, there was no source of water and so we airdropped jerrrycans of water for the soldiers. The porters have a tough job. Each of them can carry about 10 to 15 kg of ration and have to take rest before coming downhill for the second trip up. We sent up ration for 120 men that would last them up to 30 days. Each soldier roughly requires 1.5 kg of ration, which includes water and kerosene," the source added.


He said the Chinese have an advantage of terrain and topography.

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