India-China stand-off: Galwan skies go quiet, tension simmers on the ground
The stalemate between India and China at four points in Eastern Ladakh continues with the withdrawal of troops by both sides virtually coming to a stop after the June 15 escalation in the Galwan sector.
While divisional military commanders from the two sides are in continuous conversation in the Galwan sector, intelligence inputs reveal that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has hardly moved as per the de-escalation matrix laid down by Corps Commanders on the two sides on June 6.
It is now evident, experts say, that the resolution of the India-China stand-off at patrolling point 14 (Galwan), patrolling point 15 (Kongka La) and patrolling point 17 (hot springs) may take weeks of intensive deliberations. The stand-off at Pangong Tso will take even more time.
There were, however, some positive indicators in Eastern Ladakh with the Chinese PLA Air Force not undertaking any night fighter operations on Thursday and the two armies scrupulously obeying the rules of engagement. The strict adherence to laid down military protocols by the two armies has also reduced chances of any vertical escalation.
Even though the situation is stable after the violent scrap of June 15, the Chinese PLA is fully deployed in Xinjiang and Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) with air, artillery and missile support. The PLA Air Force has activated its bases in both Xinjiang and TAR with fighter aircraft making a show of strength in Aksai Chin area in the night. The basic idea is to pressure Indian military to back off in Eastern Ladakh.
While a section of the Indian military establishment was elated after the two generals worked out the June 6 dis-engagement process, Indian diplomats and intelligence operatives said it was imperative that this be translated on the ground. It was quite evident to both, people familiar with the matter said, that China was not showing any signs of intent of withdrawing from the stand-off without achieving its political objectives.
The Chinese military build-up and aggressive intention of the PLA was evident after surface-to-air missile batteries and armed drones were moved to Aksai Chin after Indian Su-30 MKIs made a sortie near Pangong Tso in early May after the skirmish at the salt water lake. The movement of large numbers of armoured personnel carriers and heavy calibre guns made the Indian national security establishment uneasy about the military intentions of its northern Asian neighbour. It was only because of this alertness that Indian Army was able to foil PLA’s Galwan game plan to capture the entire river valley and make the Darbuk Shyok Daulet Beg Oldi road at the confluence of Galwan-Shyok come under the intense gaze of the Chinese artillery.
While Indian forces are fully deployed along the 3,488km Line of Actual Control to blunt any Chinese PLA offensive, experts said conversations between military commanders must yield result soon or else the possibility of a military accident cannot be ruled out.