SRINAGAR: Around 40 to 50 PLA soldiers, armed with spears and other sharp-edged weapons as well as guns, have come just a few metres from the Indian Army position on the heights north of Rezang La in eastern Ladakh, and are likely to make a fresh attempt to dislodge the Indian soldiers, sources said on Tuesday, IANS reported.
The fresh incident comes a day after Monday’s skirmish where Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops indulged in provocative military movements and also fired shots to intimidate Indian soldiers, as per the Indian Army. China, too, accused India of doing the same.
Chinese soldiers armed with stick-machetes deployed along LAC
— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) September 8, 2020
The reports came at a time when the External Affairs Minister S Jaishanker has already landed in Moscow for a Thursday meeting with his Chinese counterpart. Before landing in Russia, Jaishaker had a stopover in Tehran where he met his Iranian counterpart. The minister is on a 4-day visit to Russia. He will be meeting the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shangai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on the sidelines of which he is scheduled to meet his Chinese counterpart.
A productive meeting with FM @JZarif during a stopover in Tehran. Discussed strengthening our bilateral cooperation and reviewed regional developments. Thank him for his gracious hospitality. pic.twitter.com/Ec9sqO5I6U
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) September 8, 2020
Jiashankar’s Moscow visit came a day after the Defence Minister returned from attending the Defence Ministers meeting of the SCO. He also had a meeting with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the meeting but there was no breakthrough.
With tensions escalating again, the Indian security brass held several rounds of deliberations. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met top security officials and was also briefed by Army chief, General Manoj Mukund Naravane, about the emerging situation.
Monday’s incident took place near Shenpao mountain close to Rezang La on the south bank of Pangong Tso (lake).
The Indian Army, in a statement, said that China continues to “undertake provocative activities to escalate” the situation at the border and it was the PLA troops who “fired a few rounds in the air” in an attempt to intimidate Indian troops.
“At no stage has the Indian Army transgressed across the LAC or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing,” Indian Army spokesperson, Col Aman Anand said.
Pleased to host my Indian counterpart @DrSJaishankar in Tehran for talks today.
Discussed expansion of bilateral relations and trade, and exchanged views on important regional issues.
Our active engagement with our neighborhood is our top priority. pic.twitter.com/03F8F9VBdb
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 8, 2020
The army stated that it is the Chinese side that has been “blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres, while engagement at the military, diplomatic and political level is in progress”.
“In the instant case on September 7, 2020, it was the PLA troops who were attempting to close-in with one of our forward positions along the LAC and when dissuaded by own troops, the PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate own troops,” Col Anand said.
However, despite the grave provocation, Indian troops “exercised great restraint and behaved in a mature and responsible manner”, he added.
“The Indian Army is committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity, however, it is also determined to protect national integrity and sovereignty at all costs. The statement from the (PLA’s) Western Theatre Command is an attempt to mislead their domestic and international audience.”
On Monday, the Chinese Army issued a statement that the Indian Army “blatantly fired threats” to the patrol of the Chinese border guards who had made a representation, and these border guards were forced to take “countermeasures to stabilise the situation on the ground”.
“India’s actions seriously violated the relevant agreements and the agreements between China and India, pushing up regional tensions and easily causing misunderstandings and misjudgments,” Western Theatre Command spokesperson, Colonel Zhang Shuili, said in a statement.
The Indian Army has occupied crucial heights in areas around the south bank of Pangong lake and the Chinese have made several attempts to dislodge the Indian troops from these positions.
The area has become the new friction point but the Indian Army seems be in an advantageous position, as its possession of these heights allows it to dominate the Chinese Moldo garrison and the Spangur Gap under Chinese control.
Both Indian and China lay claim to some of these heights.
One of the most critical heights the Indian Army is manning is the Rechin La, which the Chinese are protesting against.
From here, the Indian Army enjoys a vantage point not just for Chinese army military bases on the south bank of the Pangong lake but can also be in the range of the Finger 4 area north of the lake.
India and China are engaged in a four-month-long standoff at the LAC in eastern Ladakh. Despite several levels of dialogue, there has not been any breakthrough and the deadlock continues, news agency IANS reported.
Meanwhile, India Today reported that the Brigadiers of the rival armies had a heated argument on hotline over the use of ‘medieval’ weaponry by the PLA. “Chinese brigadier said melee weapons (similar to ‘guandao’) carried were part of China’s martial culture,” the report said. Hindustan Times quoted sources saying that the “Indian soldiers had put up a “wire obstacle” near their positions in a warning to the PLA to not cross over,”