China is believed to have brought forward more troops in the past week along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, taking its total troop deployment to approximately 52,000. Of these, 10,000 troops have been deployed on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso that has witnessed hectic military activity since the manoeuvres of August 29-30.
These details form part of a latest comprehensive assessment by security forces on the “eyeball to eyeball” deployment of Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh, ET has reliably gathered. The report notes that Chinese aggressive moves have been met with “mirror deployment” on the Indian side.
According to this assessment, the number of battalions deployed in Ladakh by People Liberation Army (PLA) has gone up from 35 in August to 50 in September. Each battalion consists of 1,000-1,200 soldiers. On September 7, PLA troops attempted to come dangerously close to one of the forward positions of Indian Army, which resulted in shots being fired in the air.
“While there have been no fresh incidents of transgression or standoff in past week, there is considerable movement of PLA troops and equipment,” explained a senior official.
Chinese forces, sources said, have been trying to alter the status quo but have so far been thwarted by the Indian Army, which now controls four key features in and around the South Bank of the Pangong Tso. “The increase in the number of friction areas has led to lack of trust among the soldiers. The disengagement will depend upon the outcome of military level talks that is expected to be held this week. Armed forces are on high alert and surveillance is at an all-time high. They will continue to occupy the high peaks until the disengagement talks are completed,” the official added.
Also on the cards is a meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) between the two countries to discuss the process of disengagement and de-escalation. External affairs minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, who is also the Chinese special representative on the boundary issue, reached a five-point understanding on disengagement of troops on September 10 at Moscow, which is expected to lead to a fresh round of talks between senior military commanders.
India has accused PLA forces of blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres, while conversations at military, diplomatic and political levels are in progress. “At no stage has the Indian Army transgressed across the LAC or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing,” said officials.