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Indian Army soldiers push back Chinese troops in Sikkim sector; both sides sustain injuries

NEW DELHI, Jan 25: Indian Army soldiers pushed back troops from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) near Naku La in the Sikkim sector on January 20.

In a statement, the Indian Army confirmed that there was a "minor face-off" at Nakula area of North Sikkim on January 20 and it was "resolved by local commanders as per established protocols."

Soldiers from both sides sustained injuries during the violence, news reports suggest.

The Indian side pushed back the Chinese troops when the latter's patrol party attempted to cross the border. About 20 soldiers were injured, according to a report by India Today. Some news reports also added that no arms were used during the clash.

It is to be noted that this latest clash happened in the Sikkim sector where the border line is not disputed.

The incident comes at a time when both sides have deployed thousands of troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) since May 2020 when border tensions started simmering between the two neighbours – especially along three friction points in the eastern Ladakh region.

The LAC is the de-facto border between the two countries in the region. In June 2020, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the Galwan Valley as the stand-off escalated into a violent face-off. While there were fatalities on the Chinese side too, the number was not revealed by Beijing.

Both sides are known to have stationed heavy artillery and deployed fighter aircraft in close proximity to the LAC as a precautionary measure even as they work towards disengagement.

In fact, India and China will hold the ninth round of corps commander-level military talks on January 25 in Moldo to address the standoff in eastern Ladakh.

If China gets aggressive, so will India: IAF chief

JODHPUR, Jan 23: Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria on Saturday said that India was ready to match China’s aggression in the eastern Ladakh theatre, where the two countries have been locked in a border row since May 2020.

“If they (China) can get aggressive, we will also get aggressive. We have full preparations (to meet any eventuality,)” the IAF chief said during a media interaction at Jodhpur, where India and France are carrying out joint air force drills.

Bhadauria’s comments came on the eve of the ninth round of military talks with China to defuse border tensions in Ladakh. The corps commander-level talks between the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will be held at Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on Sunday, said officials familiar with the development.

Last month, the IAF chief said the likely reasons for Chinese actions could include a planned escalation and an attempt to establish border claim lines and start border talks on the new positions, military signalling, domination efforts with escalation control and deployment and training of their Western Theatre forces in real war-like scenarios wherein the Galwan Valley incident was an overreach.

Senior Indian and Chinese commanders had last met on November 6. The situation in the Ladakh sector remains tense and the ongoing military dialogue has not led to any breakthrough. “Talks may not yield a positive outcome in the short-term but the dialogue has to go on,” said one of the officials cited above.

Experts are also not expecting much from the military talks.

It is a good thing that talks are going on and communication is being maintained between the two sides, said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retd).

“However, it is unlikely that any breakthrough will take place as there does not seem to be any common ground on the basis of which an agreement can take place. This common ground has to be established in political or diplomatic level engagements. Since this has not happened, we should not expect much from the military talks,” Hooda said.

On January 12, army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said that the Indian Army was prepared to hold its ground in eastern Ladakh “for as long as it takes” to achieve national objectives in case the ongoing military and diplomatic talks with China are prolonged.

During the eighth round of talks on November 6, the Indian Army and the PLA said they will ensure their front-line soldiers “exercise restraint and avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation” along the LAC.

Both India and China are prepared for a long haul in the Ladakh sector and firm about holding forward positions along the LAC through the harsh winter months.

The PLA has moved back at least 10,000 soldiers from depth areas in the Ladakh theatre to rear positions but its frontline deployments remain unchanged, as previously reported by Hindustan Times.

Earlier, Naravane said India should not read too much into the withdrawal of Chinese troops from depth areas on the Tibetan plateau as there has been absolutely no reduction of troops by either side at friction points in the Ladakh sector where the border standoff between the two nuclear powers is in its ninth month.

He said India hoped to reach an agreement with China based on the principles of “mutual and equal security” that would result in disengagement of border troops at friction points and subsequent de-escalation of conflict in the Ladakh theatre.

India has consistently pushed for comprehensive disengagement at all flashpoints and restoration of status quo ante of early April during the ongoing military talks whereas the Chinese side wants the Indian Army to first pull back troops deployed on strategic heights on the southern bank of Pangong Tso.

Nothing can deter Indian Armed Forces from remaining steadfast in call for duty: CDS

NEW DELHI, Jan 2: Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat on Saturday hailed India’s defence forces for remaining vigilant under any challenging circumstances. “Nothing can deter the Indian Armed Forces from remaining steadfast in their call for duty,” he said.

Rawat made the comment during his visit to the forward military bases along the China border in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam as he completed one year in office on Friday.

After witnessing measures adopted by troops to maintain effective surveillance and enhanced operational readiness, General Rawat said,“Only Indian soldiers could remain vigilant under such challenging situations — ever-willing to go beyond the call of duty to safeguard the borders.”

Rawat had taken charge as the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) on January 1 last year. “The CDS has a task cut out: To make all three services work in a cohesive manner. We will work as team,” he had said soon after assuming office. As part of his current role after serving as Army chief for three years, General Rawat is the principal military adviser to the defence minister on all matters related to the tri-services.

“As team, we will work towards a goal where 1+1+1 is either five or seven, and not three. What I mean is, the synergised effort should not be the sum of the whole, it should be much more. And we have to achieve that through integration,” he said after taking charge.

Meanwhile in Kashmir, the Army has set up a ‘feedback and grievances’ helpline as part of its efforts to strengthen the bond with the people. “As part of Indian Army’s efforts to further strengthen the bond of friendship between the Aawam and Jawan, a ‘feedback and grievances’ helpline has been established under the aegis of Chinar Corps,” a defence spokesman said.

 



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