Amid mounting tensions at the border with the Chinese army, Indian Army chief visited Ladakh, sources said, however he did not visit the forward locations. The Indian Army has increased its troops in Ladakh in the past week after reports came in about an increase of Chinese troops along the Indo-China border. Tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) started after Chinese helicopters were spotted flying close to the un-demarcated border between India and China in Eastern Ladakh on May 12. Prior to the incident, 250 soldiers of both sides were engaged in a fierce face-off near Pangong Lake in the area, news agency PTI reported quoting official sources. The army chief had also visited the Easter and South-Western Command after the incidents.
Army chief General M M Naravane visited Ladakh on Friday to review the operational situation, as per sources. He had a day earlier asserted that the Army is 'deeply committed to ensuring India’s security and sovereignty'. Last week, in interaction with news agency ANI, he had said that there is 'nothing new' about the skirmishes that have taken place along the LAC, assuring that the situation is being dealt as per the protocols laid down between the two countries and in accordance with strategic guidelines.
The Chinese military helicopters were seen flying close to the Line of Actual Control on at least a couple of occasions following the clashes after which a fleet of Su-30 fighters of the Indian Air Force too carried out sorties in the area, the sources said. There was no official word on whether the Su-30 jets were rushed in to carry out the sorties in the wake of the face-off and aggressive Chinese posturing in the area. The sources said Chinese military helicopters routinely carry out sorties on the Chinese side of the border while Indian Army helicopters also fly in the area.
In the face-off on May 5, scores of Indian and Chinese army personnel clashed along the northern bank of the Pangong Lake and even resorted to stone-pelting. A number of soldiers on both sides sustained injuries. It was the first case of troops from the two sides exchanging blows after a similar incident around the Pangong Lake in August 2017.
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 of the Sino-India border on Saturday. At least 10 soldiers from both sides sustained injuries in the incident. 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 Line of Actual Control, the de-facto border between the two countries. 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 border areas.