NEW DELHI: In further escalation in the ongoing military confrontation in eastern Ladakh since early-May, fresh clashes erupted between Indian and Chinese troops on the southern bank of Pangong Tso during the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday.
There was no immediate official word on whether there were any casualties in the latest clashes, with a brigade commander-level flag meeting at Chushul between the two armies being held on Monday morning to resolve the issue.
“The People’s Liberation Army LA violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo,” said the Indian Army.
“Indian troops pre-empted this PLA activity on the southern bank of Pangong Tso Lake, undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground. The Indian Army is committed to maintaining peace and tranquility through dialogue, but is also equally determined to protect its territorial integrity,” it added.
The military confrontation between India and China will enter the fifth month this week, which saw a violent skirmish between the rival troops in Galwan Valley on June 15. While 20 Indian soldiers died in the bloody skirmish, China has kept silent about the number of casualties in the PLA ranks.
Several rounds of diplomatic and military talks have so far failed to break the deadlock in the stalled troop disengagement in Pangong Tso and Gogra as well as de-escalation in the rival military build-ups in the strategically-located Depsang Plains-Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) sector, as was reported by TOI earlier.
The PLA has refused to withdraw eastwards from the 8-km stretch it has occupied from `Finger-4’ to `Finger-8’ (mountainous spurs jutting into the lake) after building scores of new fortifications and gun positions on the northern bank of Pangong Tso since early-May.
China has shown no intent of disengaging from the troop confrontation, and has further dug in its heels by continuing to build roads, bridges, helipads and other military infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to back its troops at the actual face-off sites.
The infrastructure development by the PLA ranges from building roads, lateral links, bridges and helipads in several sectors close to the LAC to laying optical fibre cables for its troops at the face-off sites in Pangong Tso and Gogra-Hot Springs, while also augmenting its airbases at Hotan and Kashgar in Xinjiang as well as Gargunsa, Lhasa-Gonggar and Shigatse in Tibet, as was earlier reported by TOI.
India, of course, has matched the PLA troop build-up and deployment of tanks, artillery, surface-to-air missile batteries and other heavy weaponry in all the three sectors of the 3,488-km LAC stretching from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.