Incursion-prone pockets along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) -- the de facto border between India and China -- seem to be on the new army chief’s radar. General Dalbir Singh, who replaced General Bikram Singh as army chief on Thursday, is preparing to embark on a tour of trouble spots along the disputed LAC in the sensitive Ladakh sector.
In his maiden visit to the LAC as army chief, Dalbir Singh will assess the situation at Depsang, Chumar and Demchok on August 12, areas that have witnessed a series of border violations by Chinese troops, a source said. The army chief’s visit is expected to boost troop morale.
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His itinerary also includes a visit to the Siachen glacier on August 11. Holding on to Siachen has cost the army more than 860 lives over the last 30 years, with extreme climate and terrain chiefly to blame.
New Army chief General Dalbir Singh receives the baton from his predecessor Gen. Bikram Singh (R) while taking over in New Delhi. (PTI photo)
India and China were involved in a 21-day border face-off at Depsang in eastern Ladakh last April-May. Indian soldiers were eyeball-to-eyeball with the Chinese in Depsang, after Chinese troops set up a camp 19 km inside Indian territory.
Chinese troops have also violated the border in Chumar and Demchok sectors in south-eastern Ladakh several times, despite New Delhi and Beijing inking a border pact last October to ease tensions.
At least three border violations have been reported in Demchok during the last four weeks.
Chinese soldiers had crossed the LAC in Demchok sector on July 22 and vandalised tents set up by Indian shepherds. Also, two vehicles carrying Chinese soldiers crossed the LAC in the same sector, triggering a face-off with the Indian Army on July 15.
Outgoing army chief General Bikram Singh, who visited China early July, said, “I do not foresee any contingency of a skirmish with China as there are very comprehensive rules of engagement.”