PM, top military chiefs review Ladakh

PM, top military chiefs review Ladakh

S. Sivadas

S. Sivadas

The Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, held a review meeting on Tuesday with the National Security Adviser, Mr. Ajit Doval, and the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen Bipin Rawat, besides other senior officials on a day the stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops continued in the Galwan valley of eastern Ladakh.

The Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh,Mr. RK Mathur, who was in Delhi, also called on the Prime Minister, said official sources.

The Union Defence Minister, Mr. Rajnath Singh, was also briefed by the CDS and three service chiefs on Tuesday as he reviewed the ground situation in Ladakh.

Mr. Singh is learnt to have heard them out, discussing troop numbers and risk to infrastructure. Earlier, the Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army held several meetings to resolve the LAC situation in eastern Ladakh.

Defence sources said India, for now, had decided that road construction along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh must continue and our fortifications and troop deployment must match those of the Chinese. The Army has been asked to hold ground while talks to defuse the situation continue.

Meanwhile, reports said China continued to add to its military strength across eastern Ladakh as tensions festered in the Galwan valley and north of the Pangong Tso, a 135-km glacial lake.

Some 8,000-10,000 troops along a stretch of 826 km and armoured personnel carriers and artillery guns have already been deployed on both sides. Troop build-up on both sides is concentrated at three spots —- one at Galwan and two around Pangong Tso.

The cause of the flare-up is apparently the 255-km Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beig Oldie road.

Opposite the road or eastwards of it is the Aksai Chin plateau, illegally occupied by China.

China and India have a string of air bases close to the LAC which can be used to launch an offensive. A senior official explained that fully functional Chinese airfields at Kashgar, Korla, Yarkand, Hotan, Ngari Gunsa and Gardzong virtually form a ‘ring’ around Ladakh.

On Friday, General Manoj Mukund Naravane had visited Leh, the headquarters of 14 Corps, and reviewed security deployment of forces along the LAC.

China has been peeved about India laying a key road in the finger area of Pangong Tso region and another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Baig Oldie road along Galwan valley.

Since the face-offs, China has increased its strength in Pangong Tso, Galwan valley, Demchok and Daulat Baig Oldie.

Meanwhile the Chinese President, Mr. Xi Jinping, on Tuesday ordered the military to scale up the battle preparedness. He was speaking at a plenary meeting of the delegation of the People’s Liberation Army during the parliament session. His comments came in the backdrop of the LAC stand-off.