According to Northern Army commander Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China have established various channels of communication at the battalion and brigade levels in the strategic Ladakh region to prevent smaller incidents escalating into larger ones along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
He also stated that the practise of “body pushing,” or scuffles that erupted when opposing patrols collided, has been discontinued.
“The situation on the LAC as of today is steady, but it is in a condition of heightened alert,” Lt Gen Dwivedi told reporters on the sidelines of the North Tech Symposium Seminar at the Northern Command headquarters in Udhampur. Why? We don’t want the situation that occurred in April 2020 to happen again. As a result, the force and equipment deployments have been calibrated, and we will ensure that any future misadventures by the adversary are avoided.”
A series of precautions, according to the Northern Army commander, have been put in place to avoid smaller events from growing into larger conflicts.
“To ensure that there is no irritant that could escalate into a violent situation, we have opened up numerous channels of contact at the lower levels, like as battalion and brigade levels, and we have regular hotline exchanges,” he said.
Even while the two sides have had limited success in disengaging competing soldiers from various friction sites on the LAC, and discussions are ongoing to overcome the standstill that has thrown a shadow over the bilateral relationship, the persistent border standoff between India and China is now in its third year. Despite the withdrawal of troops from the Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso, and Gogra-Hot Springs areas, the two armies still have roughly 60,000 troops and advanced weaponry in the Ladakh theatre.
The Indian Army and PLA have undertaken 15 rounds of military discussions to defuse tensions along the border, although issues at Patrol Point-15 near Kongka La, Depsang Bulge in the Daulet Beg Oldi sector, and Charding Nullah Junction (CNJ) in the Demchok sector are still being discussed.
“In terms of discussions, the Indian Army has accomplished what it needed to. Last month, Lieutenant General Rakesh Sharma (retd), a military affairs specialist and former commander of the Leh-based HQs 14 Corps, remarked, “We could be in the current status in perpetuity till there is political rapprochement between the two countries.”
Increased military actions on both sides of the border, deployment of sophisticated weapons, infrastructure development, and a series of combat manoeuvres by their forces have hardened India and China’s attitude on LAC during the last two years.
“We’ve turned off the system of body pushes and the like that was in place before, and no physical contact is guaranteed,” Lt Gen Dwivedi added. “Whenever there is an annoyance, we call for talks right away… At the battalion and brigade levels, we sit down and work out an amicable solution. Concerns about differences in LAC perception must be addressed at a higher level, such as a corps commander meeting or a meeting with the MEA. These discussions continue to take place on a regular basis, as you are aware, with the 15th meeting taking place on March 11, 2022 for some sort of progress,” he stated.
Because differences in perception of LAC have been a long-standing issue involving foreign ministries, Dwivedi believes it will take time. “And we both need strategic patience for it,” he remarked. “We used to remark that the Chinese have strategic patience. They’re willing to wait. Now, India has progressed significantly, and we have strategic patience and are willing to wait.”
He went on to say that this implies India is now bargaining from a position of strength, assertiveness, and the rule of law. “I can tell you that there will be no failures in operational preparedness on the ground.”