Tuesday, September 21, 2021

India Still Deploying Howitzers in Ladakh Despite Chinese PLA Pulling Back – Reports

India and China have completed the disengagement of their troops from the Pangong Tso area, but New Delhi is still deploying howitzers in Ladakh. The pullback of the troops in a “phased, coordinated, and verifiable manner” has come after a nine-month-long stand-off in eastern Ladakh.

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Both sides have withdrawn their troops, tanks, and other equipment from the Pangong Tso, the lake which has been a major friction point between India and China in the military stand-off. An estimated 5,000-10,000 Chinese PLA soldiers have left the area.

Reports suggest the two sides will meet at Moldo near Chushul on the South Bank of Pangong Tso to discuss disengagement in Depsang, Hot Springs, and Gogra. The 10th round of senior commander-level talks will take place at 10 am on Saturday (February 20).

Satellite images have revealed that multiple Chinese military camps seen in late January have been removed now. The Indian Army has also released pictures and videos of Chinese troops moving back from the friction point.

Tensions along the border were eased on February 10 when China’s defense ministry had announced that the two sides will withdraw troops from the Pangong Tso.

However, despite the disengagement, reports suggest that India has deployed K-9 Vajra guns for trials in Ladakh. Three guns that had arrived in Leh are being transported to a high-altitude base to see their effectiveness in the mountainous region, top government sources told Indian news agency ANI.

Produced at the Larsen and Toubro’s facility in Hazira near Surat in Gujarat, the Indian Army has been inducting about 100 of these guns for the last two years in different regiments. The self-propelled guns, manufactured by Larsen and Toubro in partnership with a South Korean firm, have a range of 38 kilometers.

China Admits Casualties

Meanwhile, for the first time, China has admitted the casualties in the Galwan Valley clash of June 15, 2020, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.

The PLA Daily has reported that five Chinese frontier officers and soldiers stationed in the Karakoram Mountains were recognized by the Central Military Commission of China for defending national sovereignty and territorial integrity in the border confrontation with India.

Describing the conflict worst in 45 years, Chinese state-owned Global Times reported: “This is the first time China has unveiled casualties and details of these officers and soldiers, four of whom died when dealing with the Indian military’s illegal trespassing of the Galwan Valley, Line of Actual Control (LAC)”.

The state-owned media also alleged that India had hyped the casualties, distorted truth and tried to mislead the international community, and defame the Chinese military. Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, a Defense Ministry spokesperson, told GT that the details were revealed to clarify the truth and dismiss misunderstandings.

Chinese analysts have pointed out that China revealed the truth in order to avoid further confrontations on the frontlines. The Chinese media and experts continue to pin blame on India for the violent clash in the Galwan Valley eastern Ladakh.

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