Last week, Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) met for the 18th time to discuss disengagement of troops along the Line of Actual Control. The status quo ante needs to be restored to that of before May 2020. The troops have been in a border stand-off for almost five months.
India’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat has clearly signalled a military option to deal with transgressions by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Ladakh if talks between the two armies and the diplomatic option do not yield the desired results along the 4,057 km Line of Actual Control.
The Hindustan Times quoted General Rawat as saying that “transgressions along the LAC occur due to differing perceptions about its alignment. Defence services are tasked to monitor and carry out surveillance and prevent such transgressions from turning into intrusions”.
Signalling a move by the Indian Army, he said: “A whole-of-government approach is adopted to peacefully resolve any such activity and prevent intrusions. Defence services always remain prepared for military actions should all efforts to restore the status quo along the LAC fail to succeed.”
After the 18th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) last week, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, CDS General Bipin Rawat and the three services chiefs to discuss the Ladakh situation.
Indian media reports have also suggested that the government has decided to hold more military-level talks to resolve the border dispute. While the date for the talks hasn’t been fixed yet, they may be held at the level of the Corps Commander and the Division Commander.
India has been raising the issue of patrolling in certain Fingers in Pangong Tso, marked as Finger 1 to Finger 8, and they have been reportedly blocked by Chinese troops. Five rounds of Corps Commander talks have been held and the last talks were on ingression around 8 km at Pangong Tso and its continued deployment in the Gogra-Hot Springs area.
In Depsang, Chinese troops have refused to move back from a Y-junction, which was discussed during the Division Commander level talks on 8 August.
Meanwhile, India has been preparing for an extended deployment of troops along the Line of Actual Control along with moving its J 20 stealth fighters into the Hotan air base and home-grown Tejas fighter aircraft.
Indian army and China’s People’s Liberation Army troops have been in a border stand-off since the first week of May at different points along the Line of Actual Control. The situation turned tense after 15 June’s violent face-off wherein 20 Indian soldiers were killed. The two sides have been holding several levels of talks for disengagement.