Dialogue with China for a peaceful resolution of the border crisis in Ladakh will continue with Indian troops standing firm in the sensitive sector, defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday even as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has stepped up its activities not only in the Ladakh area but also in the eastern sector including Arunachal Pradesh.
He made the comments on the situation along the northern borders while addressing the army brass during the ongoing commanders’ conference, which is focused on a raft of issues with border developments being right at the top.
“It is our national responsibility to ensure availability of best weapons, equipment and clothing to our troops braving extreme weather and hostile forces to defend our territorial integrity,” he said.
India and China have been locked in a border standoff for over 17 months in the Ladakh sector, and in the midst of that row PLA has scaled up its military activities in the east.
PLA has intensified patrolling in sensitive areas across the contested border in Arunachal Pradesh after the lingering standoff with India began last year in the Ladakh sector, and has ramped up area domination patrols for surveillance and orientation of newly inducted troops with a noticeable increase in visits by senior PLA officers to forward areas to supervise the military activities, as previously reported.
The sectors across which the Indian Army has detected PLA’s increased operational tempo include Lungro La, Zimithang and Bum La — areas of high historical significance in the context of Chinese aggression in the eastern sector — and counter measures have been taken to boost India’s readiness to handle any contingency.
The 13th round of military talks between India and China to cool tensions in Ladakh reached an impasse on October 10, with PLA not agreeing to suggestions made by the Indian Army. The military dialogue took place more than two months after the last round of talks that led to disengagement of forward deployed troops from Gogra, or Patrol Point-17A, in early August.
Despite two rounds of disengagement at friction points this year, the two armies still have 50,000 to 60,000 troops each deployed in Ladakh.
The bi-annual army commanders’ conference is focusing on several issues including the situation along the country’s borders, security scenario in Jammu and Kashmir, organisational restructuring, logistics, administration and human resource management, the defence ministry said in a statement. Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane is chairing the four-day conference that ends on Thursday.
If the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is there to stay in the Ladakh theatre so is the Indian Army, Naravane said on October 9, referring to the military build-up and infrastructure development across LAC.
The conference also comes days after Naravane visited the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir for a security review after several soldiers were killed in a counter-terror operation, and renewed infiltration attempts by Pakistani terrorists are being witnessed along the Line of Control after a temporary lull following the renewal of a ceasefire pact with Pakistan in February 2021.