SRINAGAR: Since no Kashmir based party has “condemned the killing of the Indian soldiers” in Galwan valley by the PLA, Delhi has “taken a note of the deafening silence”, Chandigarh based The Tribune reported. Only Altaf Bukhari’s Bukhari’s Apan Party has “condemned the killing of the soldiers in unequivocal terms”
“The least that they (Kashmiri parties) could have done was to condemn China for the murderous action against the Indian soldiers in Galwan Valley,” the newspaper quoted “a highly placed source” saying.
The newspaper reported that the “there were no messages of solidarity with the nation” as these parties – read NC and PDP, made “fervent calls for the de-escalation of the situation” thus avoiding the “root cause” – the clashes. “The theory of de-escalation was a balancing act where the aggressor China and India were placed equally,” the newspaper reported. “It was also noted that the NC and PDP had reflected on the different response of India towards Pakistan and China.”
Regardless of what the Jammu and Kashmir parties do, the two armies are caught in a protracted stand-off. There has not been any breakthrough despite the two sides having three meetings in last few months. Though officially it is being said that there will be disengagement – they have already started calling the clash as ‘face-off’, there is not a slightest hint towards when and how the two armies will leave the eyeball to eyeball positioning on the Ladakh heights. Given the approaching winter, it is going to be a serious crisis to manage troops in almost-Siachin glacier conditions.
As the tensions remain, The Indian Express reported that the government will have to decide within three fortnights “on the number of troops that can be supported logistically in the remote area during the winter months”. It said division strength of army was already in the desert region and two additional divisions have moved in this spring.
“One of these divisions, which did not have a designated operational role in the area, is likely to be logistically more constrained. The situation is likely to be similar for other additional units rushed to Ladakh from the plains over the past two months,” the newspaper reported. “Logistics support for additional troops deployed on the LAC, if they continue to remain in location through the winter, is assessed to stretch the Army’s lengthy supply chain for the remote mountainous terrain.”
The region is accessible through two routes – from Kashmir and Himachal. “While the Zoji La route has a turnaround time of two weeks, it is 17-18 days for the Manali axis,” the newspaper reported. “Both these routes close by early December due to snowfall but the Army attempts to complete the movement of logistics convoys by early November for any contingency.”
The newspaper said that the constraints of logistics would be the main factor for deciding the actual number of additional troops that shall remain deployed during winters. The only advantage in Eastern Ladakh in comparison to two other high altitude front – Siachen (since 1984) and Drass (since 1999) is that it receives low snows during winters. The roads remain open but the flying machines are not able to fly with full load.
But the authorities have started managing the clothing and the winter tents for the personnel who shall remain on guard on these high altitude posts for the winter.
In a separate news report, The Indian Express reported that Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has sought approval from the Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) of the armed forces to approve winter diesel that can be used at temperatures as low as -30° celsius. Introduced by the company in 2019, this fuel is supplied to defence establishments where routine fuel is unusable during winter. Till then, they were mixing kerosene with diesel to keep it in a usable state.
“While experts expect that demand may rise given the border tensions, the demand for DHPP-W (Diesel High sulphur Pour Point) from the armed forces has not increased significantly since the clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Galwan valley in Ladakh on June 15,” the newspaper added.
Hindustan Times reported that the Chinese army is also facing for being in inhospitable areas. Not far away from Galwan clash spot, the newspaper said, PLA troops bases have been “flooded due to a sharp rise in water levels”. Both the armies have their bases on the banks of Galwan river that originate from the Aksai Chin region.
“With snow melting at a rapid pace, any position on the river bank is dangerous,” the newspaper quoted a senior army officer saying. It said the officer told them that the Chinese presence in Galwan, Gogra, Hot Springs and Pangong Tso is “untenable in the long run”. China has already claimed sovereignty over Galwan Valley that was rejected by the Delhi.
While there is no indication of any de-escalation, the newspaper reported that Chinese are adding to their facilities. It mentioned of report that PLA was laying fibre optic cables in Galwan Valley. “There is also a report with the army that the PLA is seeking to build a tunnel in the finger area of Pangong lake,” it said.
The two soldiers are perched at the peaks as Ladakh looks like a war theatre. While fight jets are patrolling the skies, Hindustan Times reported the army has already flown M-777 ultra-light howitzers, T-90 missile firing tanks and the top-of-the-line shoulder fired anti-tank missile systems. “The military has also been deploying the air force’s C-17 heavy-lifters; Apache attack helicopters and C-130J special operations aircraft as well as the India’s Navy’s P-8I surveillance aircraft. For Pangong lake, the navy is also flying in steel boats with gun mounts to match PLA’s heavy patrol boats used by China to dominate the fingers on the north bank of the salt water lake,” the newspaper added.