Press Trust of india

Top army commanders begin discussion on security challenge to India amid China stand-off

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New Delhi: Top commanders of the Indian Army on Wednesday began deliberations on key security challenges facing India, including the tense standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in several areas of eastern Ladakh.

The three-day conference is being presided over by Chief of Army Staff Gen M M Naravane. The commanders are also expected to delve into the overall situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, the main focus will be on the situation in eastern Ladakh where Indian and Chinese troops are locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball face-off in sensitive areas like Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie, government sources said.

“All aspects of India’s security challenges, including along borders with Pakistan and China, will be discussed at length by the commanders,” said a senior military official on condition of anonymity.

Both India and China have significantly increased their presence in all sensitive areas in the region, in an indication that neither side is ready to back off.

The situation in eastern Ladakh deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on the evening of May 5 which spilled over to the next day before the two sides agreed to “disengage” following a meeting at the level of local commanders.

Over 100 Indian and Chinese soldiers were injured in the violence. The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9.

The commanders’ conference was originally scheduled to be held from April 13-18, but it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The second phase of the conference will take place in the last week of June.

On the face-off in eastern Ladakh, India last week said that it has always taken a very responsible approach towards border management but the Chinese military was hindering normal patrolling by its troops.

It is learnt that both India and China are looking at a solution to the issue through talks. On May 5, the Indian and the Chinese army personnel clashed with iron rods, sticks, and even resorted to stone-pelting in the Pangong Tso lake area in which soldiers on both sides sustained injuries.

In a separate incident, nearly 150 Indian and Chinese military personnel were engaged in a face-off near Naku La Pass in the Sikkim sector on May 9. At least 10 soldiers from both sides sustained injuries.

The troops of India and China were engaged in a 73-day stand-off in Doklam tri-junction in 2017 which even triggered fears of a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

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 tranquility in the border areas.

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