M A I N   N E W S

Standoff with China in northern Ladakh
India looking to secure other sensitive stretches along LAC
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, April 26
Ten days into the military stand-off in northern Ladakh, following a Chinese intrusion across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the top brass of the Ministry of Defence and the Indian Army today chalked out plans and a strategy on other “sensitive stretches” of the LAC which could be used by China to up the ante.

New Delhi's top strategic policy body, the China Study Group, which has been tasked to deal with the matter has opted for diplomacy to act while the military has been asked to hold ground. Since April 18, Indian and Chinese troops are face-to-face at Raki Nullah south-east of Daulat Beg Oldie, an advanced landing ground. The Chinese had intruded on April 15 and pitched a tent.

Sources said there were other points along the LAC on the Indian side, where the Army has no access due to the terrain and lack of infrastructure. Only a patrol goes there at periodic intervals. The main source of information is the local shepherds and the latest gadgetry like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The Army has a contingency plan ready to rush in troops in any sensitive areas along the LAC. The same was shared with Defence Minister AK Antony today.

These stretches are in the east of Chumar in South-eastern Ladkah and south of the 'Spanggur Gap' in Eastern Ladakh. This location is across the Indus on its right bank. Also more stretches of the LAC in northern Ladakh, which are disputed, could be used by China to plant their men and latter stake a claim.

India and China dispute the actual alignment of the LAC as it was never demarcated on the ground or on the maps. Incidents of transgression by troops of either side occur due to differences in the perception of the LAC. These are taken up with the Chinese side through established mechanisms such as border personnel meetings, flag meetings, hotlines and diplomatic channels.

In the latest case the agreement of April 2005, which mandates soldiers on either side to return on coming face-to-face with each other, has not worked. New Delhi is waiting to see if this agreement is honoured at any other transgression.

Meanwhile Antony today said negotiations and consultations are on at various levels to find a peaceful solution to the Chinese incursion. "Negotiations and consultations are going on at various levels to find out a peaceful solution to Chinese incursion issue," Antony told reporters outside Parliament today.

Earlier in the day, Defence Ministry officials told a Parliamentary Committee that Chinese troops have pitched tents inside the Indian territory in Ladakh and efforts are underway to ensure that the pre-intrusion status quo is maintained.

Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence that India has deployed forces to "keep a close watch on the border". Members of the committee had wanted to know the actual ground situation.





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