New Delhi: With the harsh winter settling in, Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane Wednesday visited the frontline posts in eastern Ladakh, including the ones at Rechin La in the southern bank of Pangong Tso, where the Indian and Chinese troops are engaged in a stand-off, just 200-300 metres apart.
Army officers said Gen. Naravane is on a day-long visit to the Leh-based 14 Corps, also known as the ‘Fire and Fury’ Corps, which takes care of the borders with China in the northern sector.
The officers said the Army chief undertook a first-hand assessment of the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and interacted with local commanders and troops.
One of his focus areas was habitat of troops on the frontline of defences at Rechin La. The habitat has been a major logistical challenge for the Indian Army but they have largely overcome it, even though sources maintain that certain issues still remain.
The Army chief, who was accompanied by the new Corps Commander Lt Gen. P.G.K. Menon, also visited the forward base Tara in eastern Ladakh. Army officials said the chief distributed sweets and cakes for Christmas to keep up the morale of the soldiers.
Sources in the defence and security establishment said the Army chief visited most forward posts at Rechin La. The Chinese troops are stationed just 200-300 metres away from the post, the sources said.
They added that the Army chief was given a detailed briefing on the security situation by the top Commanders and those heading specialised units posted at the location.
‘No major breakthrough expected’
The sources said that no major breakthrough is expected in the coming weeks, and no dates for the military talks have been finalised.
“The dates are not fixed yet. No major breakthrough is expected,” a source said, when asked whether the Army chief’s visit meant that things could loosen up a bit.
The last round of Corps Commander level talks was held on 6 November, but ended without a breakthrough. The friction is set to last through the winter.
India and China have been in the worst-ever stand-off since the 1962 war, which has resulted in both sides deploying nearly 50,000 troops each, along with artillery and armoured elements.
India had taken the Chinese by surprise on the intervening night of 29-30 August when specialised units outflanked the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and dominated the crucial heights at the southern banks which gives an overview of China’s Moldo garrison.
The Chinese have been insisting that Indians withdraw its soldiers from the location. The tensions escalated further in September this year when Chinese troops fired shots in the air as a warning to Indian soldiers.