With China deploying 50,000 soldiers along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Aksai Chin even during the disengagement process, former Indian military general raises the possibility of further intrusion in Himachal Pradesh.
According to reports, the Chinese People Liberation Army (PLA) has deployed close to 50,000 troops in Aksai Chin region. India has also mirrored this by deploying a squadron (12) T-90 missile-firing tanks, armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and a full troop brigade (4,000 men).
As per the former Lt. General PC Katoch, the People Liberation Army (PLA) is constructing a motorable road to Khimokul Pass (5641 metres) opposite Morang Valley in Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh.
“This will likely be extended into the two kilometers no-man’s land. Recently a mixed patrol of nine personnel (jawans and locals) from Charang village with 16 ponies and 5 porters traversed 22 km to reach the border and discovered with the melting snows that China has constructed a 20 km road towards the border with India,” he wrote.
Last month, the Indian and Chinese troops got into a violent clash at the LAC in eastern Ladakh with 20 Indian casualties and an undisclosed number on the other side. Katoch explained that before several attempts to intrude, the PLA had constructed a new road four kilometers short of Galwan.
“Given the state of border infrastructure along the border with Himachal Pradesh, the paucity of reserves and lack of battlefront synergy in the form of unity of command (which is still lacking in Eastern Ladakh), PLA may indulge in intrusions here much before we expect,” Katoch said.
He added that it does not matter whether China had any illegal claims in the region earlier or not. Looking at the recent intrusion in Ladakh, China has claimed entire Galwan Valley for the first time, same as claiming Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan.
As per the reports, China has expedited work of road construction along the Indian border in Tango and Yamrang regions, which are close to Chitkul and Charang villages on the Indian side. Both Yamrang and Tango in China are controlled by the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).
Chinese helicopters had violated the airspace in the area thrice in April and also in the first week of May. The Indian army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police that man the border had increased vigil since then. The ITBP had recently sent a team that also included locals to conduct recce in the high mountainous terrains.
The team had spotted road construction along the Indian border on the Chinese side. This has lead to fear among the villagers. The Himachal Pradesh Police has issued an advisory to district police chiefs of Kinnaur and Lahaul Spiti districts to take precautionary measures, ensure the security of locals, and collect intelligence to draw the future plan of action.
Several analysts and even the opposition parties in India have raised that India doesn’t admit intrusions because of domestic politics. The author emphasised that China is benefitting from this. “After their experience in Eastern Ladakh, they would be confident of retaining what they grab with India resorting to nothing more than endless talks. The government needs to act with alacrity,” wrote Katoch.