Satellite images show PLA buildup at Galwan

In past week, additional Chinese posts seen at Depsang plains in the vicinity of strategic DBO airfield

Satellite images show PLA buildup at Galwan

A May 22 satellite image shows a China’s People’s Liberation Army base in the Galwan valley on the Line of Actual Control. AP/PTI

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24

Just two days after a meeting of senior Commanders of India and China at Ladakh, the Line of Actual Control (LAC) remains tense. Latest satellite imagery shows additional structures by the People’s Liberation Army of China have come up in the area where the deadly clash took place in the Galwan valley on June 15.


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Separately, sources reported movement of additional PLA troops over the past one week at the Depsang plains further north of Galwan towards the Karokaram pass, raising concern as the strategic airfield of Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) is less than 25 km from the Chinese posts.

Indian Army officials in New Delhi, however, said the satellite images were yet to be verified. The officials refused to comment if it was the same spot – Patrol Point 14 — where the clash had occurred, saying it would be imprudent to comment for now.

The satellite images of the Galwan valley dated June 22 put out by Twitter handle @detresfa, which has been releasing accurate images since early May, show a buildup by the PLA at the valley after the June 15 clash.

Images used by the Twitter handle show possible defensive positions like walls and trenches being set up.

In New Delhi, sources said the movement at Depsang plains was serious, as the PLA was close to a place called ‘Bottleneck’ from where it had a vantage position to interdict patrols of the Indian Army along Patrol Points 10, 11, 11-A, 12 and 13. This is the Rakki Nallah and Jeewan Nallah area where the standoff took place in 2013.

Any further movement westwards by the PLA can threaten the Darbuk-Shyok-DBO (DSDBO) road and the airfield at DBO. North of DBO is the Karokaram pass and to the west of it lies Siachen.

At a meeting of Lt General-level commanders of India and China on June 22, it was decided that the modalities would be worked out on the ground to disengage troops and withdraw their heavy military equipment, including fighter jets and tanks, lined up near the LAC.

No immediate movement was expected as there was an element of mistrust after the Galwan valley clash.

Meanwhile, Army Chief Gen M M Naravane is scheduled to visit a forward location along the LAC on Thursday, before he flies back to New Delhi. The Army Chief had visited forward areas along the LAC on Wednesday and reviewed the operational preparedness.

Heightened threat for Indian Army

  • The PLA movement at Depsang plains is matter of concern for India, as Chinese troops are close to a place called ‘Bottleneck’ from where they have a vantage position to interdict patrols of the Indian Army along Patrol Points 10, 11, 11-A, 12 & 13.
  • Any further movement westwards by the PLA can threaten the Darbuk-Shyok-DBO road and the airfield at DBO. North of DBO is the Karokaram pass and to the west of it lies Siachen.

Officials tight-lipped

Indian Army officials in New Delhi have said the satellite images on the buildup are yet to be verified. The officials refused to admit if it was the same spot – Patrol Point 14 — where the clash had occurred, saying it will be imprudent to comment for now.

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