Ladakh: Firing Reported Between Indian, Chinese Troops

Pangong Tso

New Delhi, September 8, 2020: There have been reports of skirmishes between Indian and Chinese troops on Monday amid the deadlock over the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh for the past several months. There are reports that there has been a firing between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China on the Rejang-la-Rechin La Legline near the southern bank of Pangong Lake, with reports of injuries to some Chinese soldiers.

It has been claimed by China that the Indian Army has fired in violation of the Line of Actual Control. However, there is no statement on China’s claim from the Indian Army or Government of India.

The latest dispute over the border comes at a time when the possible talks are to be held in Moscow between Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on 10 September.

A senior Indian official today said that the situation on the border is tense but the two sides are talking to each other at ground commander level. Apparently, the situation became fragile on Monday evening following a standoff between aggressive PLA troops and Indian soldiers on Rechin La. The standoff between the two soldiers began at 6.15 pm.

Late on Monday, the Chinese Western Theater Command accused Indian troops of firing a warning shot and called for a counter-attack to stabilize the situation. But the fact is that in the last week of August, the Indian Army also had to make a warning fire while trying to thwart Chinese incursions into the Green Line (which China claims) south of Pangong lake. The PLA then strengthened all its positions in the first week of September and increased the strength of the army south of the lake. However, the Indian Army has also increased its deployment.

The Twitter handle of the Chinese government newspaper ‘Global Times’ quoted a Western Theater Command spokesperson as saying, “The Indian Army once again illegally crossed LAC on Monday near the southern bank of Pangong Lake in the hills of Shenpao.”

A second Global Times tweet quoted the spokesperson as saying, “Chinese troops were forced to retaliate to stabilize the situation after Indian troops opened a warning firing on the PLA’s Border Patrol troops.”

The Western Theater Command, acting under the commander of Chinese President Xi Jinping, has accused Indian soldiers of aggression, while the Indian Army aims to hold its territory and prevent the PLA from seizing land in the area. Indian ground commanders have been given the freedom to take decisions on the spot and have been given strict instructions so that retaliation against the Chinese army is not delayed at all.

Significantly, the tension along the Line of Actual Control in East Ladakh has been there for the last few months. On the night of 29 and 30 August, Indian troops not only stopped the Chinese army trying to capture the mountain peaks on the LAC but also took positions on the peaks on the southern side of Pangong Lake. The shape of the Pangong Lake area is such that the army which occupies the peaks of these mountains near the southern bank, it will get an edge over the whole area.

On the night of 15–16 June this year, the Chinese soldiers on the LAC attempted to change the status quo and suddenly attacked Indian soldiers in the Galvan Valley with barbed wire. Due to this nefarious act of Chinese army, 20 soldiers of India were martyred. The Indian Army gave a befitting reply to this, in retaliation, 43 Chinese soldiers are said to have died. Since then there has been a state of tension on the LAC.