India is keeping a close eye on the ongoing war drills of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) near the Eastern Ladakh region, the Times of India reported, citing military sources.
According to a senior military officer, cited by the newspaper late on Tuesday, the PLA has completed the rotation of its troops across Eastern Ladakh, and begun annual summer drills “in-depth areas, including Kanxiwar and Kashgar, located 100 to 250-km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC).”
Beijing is converting into permanent positions shelters for troops, ammunition depots, runways for helicopters, and anti-aircraft missile installations at a distance of 25 to 100 kilometers from the LAC, while Indian forces have boosted their military positions in the disputed areas, the outlet reported.
New Delhi at the same time was forced to regroup its forces to fight the coronavirus pandemic, which hit the country hard, according to another officer, cited by the newspaper.
“After a risk assessment and analysis, some troops have been pulled back to support the nation in fighting the Covid crisis. Areas have been identified where the guard cannot be lowered at any cost, while some thinning out has taken place in other stretches,” he was quoted as saying.
Even though both sides maintain communication through hotlines, they remain at an impasse on this LAC section, the newspaper said.
Since the 1962 war between India and China, the two lack a duly demarcated borderline in the Himalayas. As a consequence, the area frequently sees clashes between the military of both sides.
Following a deadly escalation near Lake Pangong Tso a year ago, India and China boosted their military presence in the disputed region, while simultaneously launching disengagement consultations. As talks were underway, another two major clashes took place in June and August of last year which left dozens of soldiers killed on both sides.
The bilateral pullout of troops from the LAC began in February after the 10th round of the senior commanders’ talks. The countries’ armies have already withdrawn troops, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and artillery units from the strategic heights along the shores of Lake Pangong Tso. The negotiations continue.