China has been on India’s nerves since April-May after it began its misadventures along the Line of Actual Control near eastern Ladakh, the biggest flare-up being on the intervening night of June 15-16 at Galwan Valley when 20 Indian Army soldiers attained martyrdom.
Since then, the bilateral ties between the two neighbours have been at rock bottom and several efforts to de-escalate tensions have proven futile. Though the diplomatic and military-level talks have not yielded much, representatives from both sides continue to engage in dialogue hoping for an amicable agreement ahead of the treacherous winters.
Indian and Chinese armies held Brigade Commander-level talks on Saturday to discuss withdrawal of forces from points where they are in eyeball-to-eyeball situations. However, the meeting at Chushul from 11 am to 3 pm remained “inconclusive”.
Military delegates from both countries have been in talks since September 7, the very day the Chinese People’s Liberation Army made a provocative movement to occupy Indian territory along the LAC. That misadventure was thwarted by the Indian Army.
With the impasse between the two countries extending, they have now decided to hold their sixth round of military talks in the next few days. The corps commanders – 14 Corps commander Lt General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin – have not met since August 2.
A senior government officer has said that there is an absolute breakdown of trust between both militaries. While China has mobilised thousands of troops, along with tanks and bombers within firing distance of the Indian forces in the Pangong Tso-Chushul area, the Indian Army too has taken pre-emptive measures to foil all PLA attempts at the border.
Indian soldiers seized strategic heights on the ridge line stretching from Thakung on the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake to Gurung Hill, Spanggur Gap, Magar Hill, Mukhpari, Rezang La and Reqin La (Rechin mountain pass), and other contours near Chushul.
The Chinese side has also started troop, artillery and armour build-up in the three sectors along the LAC – western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh).