The visible chemistry between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping during the latter’s visit to India last week has failed to alter the arithmetic along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), with no end in sight to the festering border dispute in the sensitive Ladakh sector.
Diplomatic niceties with China have not lessened rising tensions along the LAC in Chumar area where more than 1,000 Indian and Chinese soldiers remain caught in a confrontation, which is reminiscent of last year’s bitter three-week standoff between the two armies in the windswept Depsang flats.
A government source said the Indian Army was prepared for a long haul in an area known as ‘30R’ and would move in more reinforcements if the Chinese People’s Liberation Army made attempts to escalate the situation.
With two flag meetings between Indian and Chinese commanders failing to end the border impasse last week, the Indian Army appears to be in no mood to make a third attempt anytime soon to defuse the crisis. However, efforts are on through diplomatic channels to press for an early resolution to the dispute.
“Diplomacy is not instant coffee. It works in ways that it is difficult for the people who are not engaged with it to perceive and understand what is happening,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in response to a question on the 10-day standoff.
Tensions escalated in Chumar --- a flashpoint in the border feud with China --- on September 10 when Indian forces found that Chinese troops had deployed heavy machinery to construct a temporary road inside what India considers to be its territory. The Chinese PLA has a tendency to ratchet up tensions along the undefined border ahead of top-level visits.
Initially, about 400 Indian and Chinese soldiers were involved in the faceoff, but the figure spiralled to 1,000 on Wednesday after China strengthened its deployment, forcing India to rush in reinforcements. The count of Indian soldiers in area ‘30R’ is slightly higher than the Chinese.
It’s not just troops who are eyeball-to-eyeball along the LAC. Civilians too have locked horns at Charding-Ninglung Nullah track junction in Demchok, further east of Chumar. New Delhi and Beijing had inked a new border pact last October to ensure peace and stability along the LAC, but the cycle of border violations continues to be an old sore in bilateral ties.
HT Analysis: The real reason why Chinese incursions continue into India