Indian patrols to move closer to China border

With improvement in infrastructure, India is getting ready to be more assertive along its disputed border with China.

Top government sources have told HT that Indian forces may soon patrol deeper into the disputed territory with China, beyond the limits observed before the recent three-week border standoff in Ladakh.

However, they would still not be carrying out surveillance all the way up to India's perceived border because of a self-imposed restriction that has never been made public.

Classified documents accessed by HT have revealed that India currently restricts its surveillance to a self-imposed 'patrolling limit' ranging from 2km to 20km inside New Delhi's perception of the line of actual control (LAC).

The common belief, based on public statements by the government, was that Indian forces patrol right up to the LAC - the undefined border disputed by both sides.

Indian and Chinese armies restarted patrols in eastern Ladakh after the standoff, but Indian forces do not venture beyond the 'patrolling limit', a top army officer confirmed.

He added that the so-called 'patrolling limit' predated the April 15 Chinese incursion, and it may have been imposed in the 1960s after the India-China war.

"The patrolling limit is being reconsidered in some swathes due to improvement in infrastructure on our side," a top government source said, adding that poor infrastructure had so far been a constraint for Indian forces to be able to patrol right up to New Delhi's perceived LAC.

Indian forces carry out patrols up to points referred to as P10, P11, P11A, P12 and P13 that define the 'patrolling limit' in Daulat Beg Oldie sector.

The secret map identifying the patrol points was recently analysed by the China Study Group, which is India's top policy body on China.

Indian patrol parties from Burtse, 10km southeast from the face-off site, march up to patrol point P10, return to Raki Nala and then take up the second leg of the surveillance to P11 the next day.

The surveillance cycle covering all the points takes up to five days, and is carried out at least once a month.

In April, Chinese troops had taken up positions and pitched five tents, 19km into Indian territory, in the bottle-neck area of Raki Nala, preventing Indian troops from patrolling more than 750 sq km of disputed area.


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