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Rajnath reviews Ladakh situation; road construction to continue

IANS | May 26, 2020 03:37 PM

NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and three service chiefs on Tuesday and reviewed the ground situation in Ladakh, where Indian and Chinese trops are locked in a face-off.

Sources said the meeting continued on for over an hour. Singh was briefed about the Indian response to the Chinese troops mobilisation.

It was clarified during the meeting that the Indian Army will hold its fort as talks to defuse the situation would continue in parallel.

It was also decided in the meeting that road constructions must continue and Indian fortifications and troop deployment must match those of the Chinese.

Earlier, Indian Army and China's People's Liberation Army held several meetings to resolve the situation in eastern Ladakh at the Line of Actual Control. However, no breakthrough was reported till Monday. The previous meeting took place on Sunday, but many things remained unresolved, said sources, adding more commander-level talks are likely to resolve the issues.

Sources said there have so far been five rounds of talks between military commanders on the ground without much progress.

A top Indian Army officer told IANS: "No breakthrough. Status quo is maintained." He said the situation will be resolved, but Indian Army will continue with its construction work along Line of Actual Control.

Sources said there has been a troop build-up on both sides and that there are at least three places where there has been an eyeball-to-eyeball situation since May 5. Both sides have deployed over 1, 000 troops at four places along the Line of Actual Control.

The Indian Army is keeping a close watch on the Pangong Tso sector of eastern Ladakh and the Galwan Valley region, where the Chinese have enhanced their deployment. Other than the extremely volatile Pangong Tso sector in the wake of the recent escalation are Trig Heights, Demchok and Chumar in Ladakh which form western sector of the India-China frontier, which are also under strict vigil.

The disengagement took place in eastern Ladakh after troops came to blows on May 5 and were involved in a face-off till the morning of May 6 when troops from both sides clashed, leaving several injured. Sources said there is a massive troop build-up by China on their side, not too far from the point of the standoff.

It was also observed that enhanced patrolling is being carried out by China in Pangong Lake. They have also increased numbers of boats.

The face-offs took place after the Chinese side objected to Indian road construction and development work.

However, Indian Army has maintained that there is no continuing face-off at the Pangong lake and that there is no build-up of armed troops in the area.

On Friday, Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane visited Leh, the headquarters of 14 Corps in Ladakh, and reviewed security deployment of forces along the Line of Actual Control with China. He held a meeting with Northern Command (NC) chief Lieutenant General Y.K. Joshi and the 14 Corps commander Lieutenant General Harinder Singh and other officers to know the ground situation at forward locations along Line of Actual Control.

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