The faceoff is likely to be a longdrawn affair, with the Army preparing for it to enter the winter months that are particularly hard in Ladakh. Sources said the armed forces remained on full alert in Ladakh. The Air Force has enhanced operations and surveillance on the border as there is a deep sense of distrust with the PLA that had earlier too promised to retreat from the flashpoints.
However, after corps commanderlevel talks to de-escalate, the PLA on June 15 attacked an Indian patrol party that had gone to the border in Galwan Valley to verify the withdrawal.
The ambush left 20 Indian soldiers dead and an unspecified number of PLA casualties, including its battalion commander. The Indian side has mounted round-the-clock UAV surveillance on the border to check if the PLA forces are moving back as promised from the flashpoints in Galwan Valley and near the Gogra post. Physical verification of the flashpoints is also expected to check if the promises have been kept.
However, in the finger area along Pangong Tso, the PLA has shown no signs of retreat or disengagement.
Chinese forces are dug in deep along Fingers 4 and 5 and only token movement has been seen. Sources said the PLA continues to man its newly created posts at Finger 4 that have effectively cut off over 50 sq km from patrolling by Indian troops. In addition, satellite images have shown that the PLA has painted a Chinese map and symbols close to Finger 4.
Similarly, at Depsang, the Chinese forces have moved in and are denying India access to at least three patrolling points along the LAC. The points designated PP 10, 11, 12 and 13 have remained cut off for months now as China is stopping Indian patrols beyond a feature named ‘Bottleneck’.
Also, the significant build-up of PLA forces remains at several locations along the LAC, which is seen as an aggressive move by the Indian side. Though there is hope that the Chinese side will abide by the talks and start pulling back troops, Indian forces are proceeding with extreme caution before taking reciprocal steps.
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