Don’t test India’s patience, Army chief warns China
In a blunt message to China in the midst of a lingering border standoff in eastern Ladakh, army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Friday said that India was committed to resolving the situation along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) through talks, but no one should test India’s patience.
The border standoff is in its ninth month, with multiple rounds on military and diplomatic talks failing to break the deadlock. “We are committed to resolving disputes through talks and political efforts. However, no one should make the mistake of testing India’s patience,” Naravane said during his customary Army Day address at a parade in Delhi Cantt, where the force put up a display of its military might including the maiden demonstration of an underdevelopment drone swarming capability.
The army chief added that India had given a fitting response to the [Chinese] conspiracy to unilaterally change the status quo in the Ladakh theatre, where the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have deployed more than 100,000 combat-ready soldiers and advanced weaponry.
He also assured the country that the sacrifice of the Indian soldiers killed in the Galwan valley on June 15, 2020 would not go in vain -- the Chinese PLA also suffered heavy casualties in the brawl but Beijing has kept the figures under wraps. Naravane said the morale of soldiers deployed in forward areas in the Ladakh sector was higher than the mountains they were defending despite the extreme weather conditions. He said India will continue with its efforts to resolve the prevailing situation on the basis of principles of “mutual and equal security”.
The army chief has conveyed to China unequivocally that India is prepared for any eventuality, said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (retd). “The message is clear --- if push comes to shove, India will take the necessary actions in the Ladakh sector,” Jaswal added.
In a separate message published on army day, Naravane said the Indian Army has been “swift and decisive” in its response to counter the PLA’s attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo on LAC.
Naravane, in a media briefing on January 12, said the army was prepared to hold ground in eastern Ladakh “for as long as it takes” to achieve national objectives in case the ongoing military and diplomatic talks with China to reduce tensions are “prolonged,” even as he described a joint threat from China and Pakistan as “very potent”.
On the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, the army chief said in Friday’s address that 300 to 400 terrorists were present in terror training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and waiting to sneak into India.
He said ceasefire violations by the Pakistan army along the LoC increased by 44% in 2020 compared to 2019, exposing the neighbour’s attempts to help terrorists infiltrate into the country. Ceasefire violations are usually a cover to help infiltrators sneak into Jammu and Kashmir.
He added that the army’s operations along the LoC not only caused heavy losses to the enemy but also thwarted many infiltration attempts. He said the army killed 200 terrorists at the LoC and in counterterror operations in the hinterland.
Speaking about capability building at a time when India faces challenges from China and Pakistan, Naravane said the army invoked emergency and fast-track procedures in 38 cases to buy weapons and systems last year to sharper its combat edge. The army also concluded capital procurements worth ₹13,000 crore last year, he said.
On January 12, the army chief said there was no doubt that India faced a collusive threat from China and Pakistan. “There is indeed increased cooperation between China and Pakistan in both military and non-military fields. And a two-front threat is very much something that we have to be prepared for.”
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