India has deployed its specialised high altitude warfare forces along the 3,488 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) to repel any transgression by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in either western, middle or eastern sectors.
Top government sources confirmed that Indian Army has been directed to safeguard the LAC from any cross-border aggression by the PLA, which is showing hostile intent by amassing troops in a bid to cow down the Narendra Modi government.
It is understood that specialised forces trained over the past decades for fighting on the northern front have been pushed up to the frontier to impose military costs if the red flag goes up. Unlike the PLA which moves in infantry combat vehicles and paved metalled roads to move, the Indian mountain troops are trained in guerrilla warfare and fighting in high altitude as shown by them in Kargil War.
“The art of mountain fighting is the toughest as the cost of human casualties is 10 to each troop of the adversary sitting on a height. The troops from Uttarakhand, Ladakh, Gorkha, Arunachal and Sikkim have adapted to the rarefied heights over centuries and hence their capability of fighting is close quarter combats is without match. The artillery and the missiles have to have pin-pointed accuracy or else they miss the mountain target by miles,” said a former Indian Army chief.
The other thing that works for the army is that the Tibetan plateau is flat on the Chinese side while the Indian side starts from K2 peak in Karakoram, to Nanda Devi in Uttarakhand, to Kanchenjung in Sikkim and Namche Barwa across Arunachal Pradesh border. “In mountains, it is not only difficult to capture territory but more difficult to hold it,” a China expert with South Block said.
While India has noted with appreciation the voices coming out in its support from the Trump administration, including the President himself, the mood in Delhi is more like “atmanirbhar (self-reliant) Bharat” with no intent of asking anyone for military or diplomatic support. “I have my battalions lined up with armoured personnel carriers and artillery. India will not instigate or precipitate any skirmish but will reply to any transgression. The days of LAC nibbling are over. This is a battle of nerves and India is prepared to wait, come snow come sunshine,” said a senior minister.
The Modi government is very unhappy that the Chinese President Xi Jinping broke all the “peace and tranquility” promises by not reining his favourite PLA western theatre commander Gen Zhao Zongqi, who is insistent on imposing 1960 eastern Ladakh map based on exaggerated territorial claims on India. This map where China claims territory upto Kongka La was unveiled by then Chinese premier Chou En lai.
Incidentally, Chou En Lai, the premier during 1962 conflict, had close links with President Xi Jinping’s family and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s wife is the daughter of secretary of the former premier. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar father K Subrahmanyam was involved in India’s war effort as an officer in the Defence Ministry.
It was only to set aside these historical baggage that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had initiated the Wuhan and Chennai understandings so that the two leaders could promote the bilateral relations post-Doklam. It is quite evident that President Xi had no such plans and has used tensions in East Ladakh to divert global attention from failure of China to alert the world about coronavirus. In the same way, another paramount leader used the 1962 conflict to deflect attention from the famine, due to failure of Great Leap Forward movement, in which millions of Chinese died.