Chinese aggression increasing, LAC standoff likely to be prolonged: Defence ministry

Chinese aggression along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) has been increasing and the current standoff is expected to be prolonged, a defence ministry document noted, with specific reference to the Galwan Valley where 20 Indian and an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers were killed in a brutal brawl on June 15.

In an official document listing out the major activities of the department of defence in June, the ministry said the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) transgressed into the Indian side in the areas of Kugrang Nala, Gogra and the north bank of Pangong Tso on May 17-18. It was uploaded on the ministry’s website on August 4.

“Consequent to this, ground level interactions were held between armed forces of both sides to defuse the situation. Corps Commander Level Flag Meeting was held on 6th June. 2020. However, a violent face-off incident took place between the two side s on 15the June resulting in casualties of both sides,” it said.

The document, which refers to only the month of June, said subsequent military talks took place on June 22 to discuss modalities of the de-escalation process. “While engagement and dialogue at military and diplomatic level is continuing to arrive at mutually acceptable consensus, the present standoff is likely to be prolonged,” it said.

The ministry said the situation in Eastern Ladakh arising from unilateral aggression by China was sensitive and required close monitoring and prompt action based on evolving situation.

Top Indian and Chinese military commanders on Sunday met in eastern Ladakh to discuss the next stage of disengagement along the LAC with negotiations entering a critical phase due to serious differences between the two armies in the Finger Area near Pangong Tso and the the PLA’s reluctance to vacate positions held by it in what New Delhi claims to be Indian territory.

The Finger Area — a set of eight cliffs jutting out of the Sirijap range overlooking the Pangong Lake — has emerged as the hardest part of the disengagement process with little hope of immediate resolution.