NEW DELHI: In comments that came ahead of the next meeting of Indian and Chinese military commanders, Army chief Gen M M Naravane said the increase in Chinese troop deployment along the entire border is a matter of concern even as he expressed the hope that the 17-month confrontation in eastern Ladakh would be resolved in the days ahead.
The 13th round of corps commander-level talks between India and China is likely to be held next week, even as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues to consolidate its military positions along the frontier with heavy weaponry as well as upgrade its airbases facing India, which have resulted in matching deployments on the Indian side.Speaking to journalists in Leh, Gen Naravane said the increase in PLA deployments in “considerable numbers” in forward areas all along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control, stretching from eastern Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, continues to be “a matter of concern for us”. A day ago, he had noted that military face-offs will be inevitable until the border question is settled between the two countries.
Turning to the Line of Control, Gen Naravane said the situation is “regressing to pre-February days” with the Pakistan army supporting two infiltration attempts by terrorists through ceasefire violations in the last 10 days.
On the Chinese border, the Indian Army has also undertaken matching measures, both in terms of troop deployment as well as infrastructure development. “We have also inducted advanced weaponry. We are strong, quite well-poised to meet any eventuality,” he said after reviewing the operational situation and preparedness in the high-altitude region. An agency report said he noted that the K9 self-propelled howitzer had been deployed with some changes in the Ladakh region to boost firepower though the weapon was essentially meant for the plains.
Indian and Chinese troops disengaged in the Pangong Tso-Kailash Range region in February and Patrolling Point-17A near Gogra in August, but the military stalemate over the other “friction points” at Hot Springs, Demchok and the strategically located Depsang Plains still continues.
Noting the situation has been “quite normal” at the friction points for the last six months, Gen Naravane said he hoped the disengagement process will be taken further in the 13th round of military talks. “By and by, all friction points will get resolved,” Gen Naravane told ANI.
“When the talks had started, people were doubtful whether talks would resolve anything, but I am of the firm opinion that we can resolve our differences with dialogue and that is what has happened in the past few months,” he added.
The Pakistan army earlier used to provide “covering fire” to terrorists trying to infiltrate into J&K but had stopped after agreeing to a fresh ceasefire in February this year. The support to infiltrating terrorists, however, has started once again.
“We have conveyed, through hotline messages and DGMO-level talks that take place every week, that they (Pakistan) should not give support to any terror-related activities,” said Gen Naravane.