Although he did not call it the new normal, Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane’s latest comments on the ongoing standoff with China in eastern Ladakh suggests that the tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) may not end anytime soon and troops should be ready for a long deployment.
Speaking to News18, the Army Chief revealed that the deployment of troops in Ladakh remains at the level seen during the height of the standoff.
“As of now, the troop levels continue to be what they were at the height of the standoff,” General Naravane said in the interview, adding that India currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops deployed in Ladakh.
The Army Chief said enhanced troop presence all along the LAC, from Ladakh to Arunachal, will continue till India and China agree to de-escalate.
“Disengagement has happened but there has been no de-escalation. So that’s why the troop strength, the numbers in that whole area of the northern front, and when I say northern front, it is not just Eastern Ladakh, the whole front, right from Ladakh down to Arunachal. So, the whole front will see this enhanced presence till such time that we keep talking and the de-escalation happens,” the Army Chief said.
“We have to be ready to be deployed for the long run also,” he added.
Experts have argued that the current crisis in eastern Ladakh could result in increased militarisation of the LAC by India and China.
When asked about the strengthening of positions in depth areas on the Chinese side, the Army Chief said the Indian Army had done the same.
“Infrastructure development is a continuous process. He [China] is improving his facilities, infrastructure and storage, and so are we,” General Naravane said.
“We are monitoring these developments and let me assure you that we are is no way lacking or no way behind in our infrastructure development,” he added.
Latest reports say the People’s Liberation Army has strengthened its positions in depth areas on its side, all along the LAC in Ladakh.
Satellite imagery from earlier this month shows one such Chinese position in Tibet’s Rutog County, located on the Xinjiang-Tibet (G219) Highway, at the eastern end of the Pangong Lake, not far from the LAC.
Multiple rows of prefabricated living structures, indicative of the presence of a significant number of Chinese troops, can be seen in the satellite image, which was posted on Twitter by open-source intelligence handle @detrasfa_.
A large motor pool, consisting of different types of vehicles, including those used by support and offensive units, can be seen in the imagery. Among other things, a large number of camouflaged positions, which could be hosting suppliers of weaponry, can also be seen at the base in this satellite image.
Earlier, it had come to light that China has built structures between Kangxiwar, located on the G219 highway just north of Aksai Chin, and Rutog.
The PLA has brought in 10,000 additional temporary troops to support the 10,000 permanent Chinese troops deployed at Kangxiwar and Rutog, a report in India Today says citing an intelligence estimate.
These developments come at a time when talks on disengagement and de-escalation have hit a dead end with China refusing to pull back forces from Gogra and Hot Springs during the last round of talks with the Indian side.
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