Rajnath Singh reviews situation in Ladakh with CDS, service chiefs

Singh also reviewed ground situation across the entire LAC

Defence minister Rajnath Singh | PTI Defence minister Rajnath Singh | PTI

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday held a meeting with Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat and the three service chiefs in New Delhi to review the situation in eastern Ladakh. The meeting comes amid reports of a limited disengagement of troops by both India and China from a number of friction points in the high-altitude region.

Rajnath Singh also reviewed ground situation across the entire Line of Actual Control (LAC), including Arunachal Pradesh. 

According to reports, General Rawat briefed the minister about the troop deployments at the stand-off sites in eastern Ladakh.

On Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had claimed that  it is maintaining military and diplomatic engagements with China to peacefully resolve the eastern Ladakh row at the "earliest".

MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said both sides agreed to work for an early resolution to the issue in sync with broader guidance provided by the leaders of the two countries for ensuring peace and tranquillity along the border areas.

The PTI on Thursday reported, quoting sources, that notwithstanding the ongoing talks, India has deployed more troops in almost all the sensitive areas along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, North Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh as part of its strategy to bolster military strength on par with China.

Even though the sources claimed that the two armies began "disengagement" around patrolling points 14 and 15 in Galwan Valley and another in the Hot Spring area, there has been no official word on it.

In their first serious efforts to end the row, Lt General Harinder Singh, the general officer commanding of Leh-based 14 Corps, and Commander of the Tibet Military District Maj Gen Liu Lin held a nearly seven-hour meeting on June 6.

In the next one week, the field commanders of the two sides are slated to hold a series of meetings to discuss specific measures to defuse the tension.

On Wednesday, the two sides held Major General-level talks to ease tension in the areas.

In the over four-and-half-hour dialogue, the Indian delegation pressed for total restoration of status quo ante and immediate withdrawal of thousands of Chinese troops from the areas which India considers on its side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the sources said.

After the standoff began in early last month, Indian military leadership decided that Indian troops will adopt a firm approach in dealing with the aggressive posturing by the Chinese troops in all disputed areas of Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie.

The Chinese Army has been gradually ramping up its strategic reserves in its rear bases near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by rushing in artillery guns, infantry combat vehicles and heavy military equipment, the sources said.

The trigger for the face-off was China's stiff opposition to India laying a key road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso Lake, besides construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.

The road in the Finger area in Pangong Tso is considered crucial for India to carry out patrol. India has already decided not to stall any border infrastructure projects in eastern Ladakh in view of Chinese protests.

The situation in the area deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on May 5 and 6. The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9.

The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LAC. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it.

Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

With inputs from PTI