India, China bring heavy weapons to bases near eastern Ladakh: report

The Indian army has moved in additional troops to match the Chinese build-up

New Delhi:

The Indian Army and the Chinese Army are moving in heavy equipment and weaponry, including artillery and combat vehicles, to their rear bases near disputed areas in eastern Ladakh. The two sides remain involved in a clash across the troubled region for more than 25 days, military sources said Sunday.

The improvement in the combat capabilities of the two armies in the region occurred even as both countries continued their efforts to resolve the dispute through talks at the military and diplomatic levels.

The Chinese Army has been gradually increasing its strategic reserves at its rear bases near the Current Control Line or ALC in eastern Ladakh by rushing in artillery, infantry fighting vehicles and heavy military equipment, the sources said.

The Indian army has also been moving in additional troops, as well as equipment and weapons such as artillery to aggressively match Chinese build-up, they said, adding that India will not budge until the status quo is restored in Pangong Tso, the Galwan Valley and a number of other areas.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has maintained strict aerial surveillance in the disputed region.

A considerable number of Chinese army personnel entered the Indian side of the de facto border earlier this month and have been camping in Pangong Tso and the Galwan Valley since then.

The Indian army fiercely opposed the transgressions of the Chinese troops and demanded their immediate withdrawal to restore peace in the area.

The Chinese military has also increased its presence in Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie, the two sensitive areas with a history of skirmishes involving the two sides.

The Chinese army is known to have deployed around 2,500 soldiers in Pangong Tso and the Galwan Valley, in addition to gradually improving infrastructure and temporary weapons. However, there is no official figure on the numbers.

The sources said the satellite images captured a significant increase in China’s defense infrastructure on its side of the de facto border, including construction activities at a military air base some 180 km from the Pangong Tso area.

The Indian army’s assessment is that the build-up is intended to put pressure on India. “We are aware of the Chinese ploy. The Indian army is adamant that we are not going to accept anything less than the restoration of the status quo in the area,” said a senior military official.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said Saturday that bilateral talks at the military and diplomatic level were in progress with China to resolve the dispute.

The trigger for the confrontation was China’s opposition to India, which established a key highway in the finger area around Pangong Tso Lake, in addition to the construction of another highway connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie highway in the Galwan Valley.

Sources said China was also charting a path in the finger area, which is not acceptable to India. The sources said that the military reinforcements that included troops, vehicles and artillery weapons were sent to eastern Ladakh by the Indian army to shore up their presence in areas where Chinese soldiers resorted to aggressive postures.

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The situation in eastern Ladakh deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers clashed on May 5, which was extended the next day before the two sides agreed to “withdraw.” However, the confrontation continued.

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