By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, May 26: In view of the escalating situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh and Sikkim since the last few weeks, Indian PM Narendra Modi held a high level meeting on Tuesday where the three service chiefs, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat were in attendance.
The tension between the Chinese and Indian soldiers began in early May when Chinese soldiers clashed with their Indian counterparts, three kilometres within the Indian side of the LAC in Ladakh. The physical scuffle resulted in injury to many in both the sides. A skirmish also broke between the two sides in the LAC in Sikkim around the same time.
Chinese objection to India’s development of infrastructure including road and bridge in the Galwan area is said to be the flash point of the ongoing tussle, although India has said that the road was for the local population there and within their territory.
Infrastructure development is happening on both sides. India is building 61 strategic Indo-China Border Roads (ICBRs), measuring 3323.57 km in length, under the direction of the China Study Group (CSG), of 75% has been completed. China on the other hand has been building underground tunnels and developing the Ngari Gunsa airport with a secondary tarmac to position helicopters or combat aircraft. A recent satellite image showed a line-up of four fighter jets believed to be either J-11 or J-16 fighters of the PLA Air Force, the Hindu reported.
Sources said that both sides have deployed additional troops and heavy equipments, leading into the 20-day stand off, while New Delhi has underplayed the situation. India has called for the Chinese troops to retreat back to their side and maintain the status quo while China has called for the halt on infrastructure development near the de-facto border.
With both sides unrelenting, observers say that the two countries may be heading to a similar standoff to that of the 2017 Doklam incident and even war if the situation worsens. In the aftermath of the Covid-19 backlash for China, Beijing is increasingly posturing aggressiveness and pushing on its expansionist designs.
China has infiltrated into Indian territory with patrolling packs numerous times leading to skirmished in the LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim, as well as in Arunachal Pradesh over the years. The Sino-Indian border is 4,056 km (2,520 mi) long and stretches over one Indian union territory – Ladakh and four Indian states: Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
Uttarakhand or in Arunachal Pradesh