The situation in the four flash points — Galwan Valley, Hot Springs, Depsang and Pangong Tso — in eastern Ladakh is still tense despite military-level talks between India and China ending on a positive trajectory, sources said Thursday.
India has increased deployment of forces and big guns by manifold across these places as the tension has escalated, said a senior government official, adding that China too has been building defense infrastructure on the other side.
At Pangong lake (tso means lake), Chinese troops have moved up to Finger 4 where they have brought over 120 vehicles and a dozen boats. The Chinese army has also opened up a new front in the area near the Depsang Bulge, a table-top plateau north of Galwan. They have built camps and deployed vehicles and troops.
The build up by the Chinese army has again started at Patrol Point 14 in Galwan, Patrol Point 15 in Kongka La and Patrol Point 17 in Hot Springs, even though they had agreed to remove defense infrastructure.
Further, defying the agreed mutual consensus to disengage, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops have returned to Patrol Point 14 in Galwan Valley where the barbaric attack took place June 15, in which 20 Indian Army soldiers including a commanding officer were killed.
The PLA has even set up tents and an observation point exactly where they were June 15, sources said, adding that the Chinese have returned with huge reinforcements even after they agreed to withdraw their troops and dismantle their setups.
Sources said that during the 11-hour corps commander-level talks between India and China June 22, it was stated that there was “mutual consensus to disengage”. It was also stated that “modalities for disengagement from all friction areas in Eastern Ladakh were discussed”.
The corps commanders of the two countries’ militaries had met at Moldo to resolve the border issue and ease tension in Eastern Ladakh. This was their second meeting after the first one June 6.
The meeting took place between 14 Corps Commander Lt. Gen Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin and it happened on the lines of the one they held at the Chushul-Moldo border personnel meeting point in eastern Ladakh June 6.
However, Chinese army troops were back at the same location where the conflict took place. The PLA deployment is a major concern for the Indian government but the forces in eastern Ladakh are ready for any conflict, Indian sources said.
June 15, the clash occurred on the south bank of Galwan river, which flows in an east-west direction before its confluence with the Shyok river.
The killings of 20 Indian Army soldiers were the first fatalities faced by the Indian Army in a clash with the PLA since 1975 when an Indian patrol was ambushed in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Indian Army said that its soldiers went to the spot where the clashes happened without any animosity to check if the de-escalation agreement was being followed as promised, and were displaying friendly gestures to the Chinese side when they were attacked.
Sources said that Indian soldiers were outnumbered by 1:5 ratio when they came under a “savage attack” from the Chinese soldiers at Patrolling Point 14.
China had also used thermal imaging drones to trace the Indian Army soldiers scattered on the treacherous terrain before brutally attacking them.
“It was the deadliest attack carried on Indian Army personnel by the Chinese military personnel in our memory,” the government source said.