Face-off at Rechin La leads to scuffle with aggressive PLA. Situation tense but ground commanders talking

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Two days before external affairs minister S Jaishankar meets his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow, there are reports of a scuffle between the Indian Army and an aggressive People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on the Rezang-La-Rechin La ridgeline with some injuries sustained by Indian troopers as China wants to unilaterally change the status quo south of Pangong Tso.

According to top Indian official on Tuesday morning, the situation is tense but both sides are talking to each other at the ground commander level. Apparently, the situation reached criticality on Monday evening after a stand-off between aggressive PLA troops and Indian troops on Rechin La. The stand-off started at 6.15pm.

While the Western Theatre Command late on Monday night accused of Indian troops of firing warning shots and talked about countermeasures to “stabilize the situation”, the fact is that the Indian Army had to open warning shots even in the last week of August as the Chinese wanted to reach to the Green Line (their perception of Line of Actual Control since 1960), south of Pangong Tso. In the first week of September, PLA has fortified all its positions on the contested points and build up troop strength south of the lake as the difference in LAC perception is large in this area.

While the Western Theatre Command, which functions directly under Commander in Chief Xi Jinping, accuses Indian troops of aggression, the Indian objective is to hold its territory and prevent a PLA land grab in the area. The Indian ground commanders are under firm instructions to take decisions on the spot so that there is no time lag in a reaction to PLA, which on the face of it is talking peace but out for a fight on the ground.