China has mobilised thousands of soldiers, tanks and howitzers within rifle range of Indian Army deployment at Spanggur Gap in the southern part of Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh, sources said, even as Indian troops are on high alert.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army made provocative military deployments at Spanggur Gap, which is between Gurung Hill and Magar Hill, from August 30 after Indian soldiers seized tactical heights on the ridge line on the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
“Seeing the Chinese PLA troop and guns mobilisation, the Indian Army too made mirror deployments at Spanggur Gap. Both the countries’ troops and guns are within shooting range,” said a government official.
Further, sources said, China has deployed its militia squads to “consolidate the border” and “stabilise Tibet region”. They have been tasked to try and dislodge the Indian Army soldiers from the tactical heights.
The militia is an irregular mix of mountaineers, boxers, members of local fight clubs and others. Most of the members are raised from the local population.
“Militia is basically a reserve force of the Chinese’s People Liberation Army. They are deployed during war time situations and to help the PLA in its military operations,” said a senior government officer.
The officer also said that Chinese militia also conducts independent operations and provides combat support and manpower replenishment to the PLA.
Indian Army has clearly reiterated that the forces will retaliate if Chinese troops make provocative military moves.
At the northern bank of Pangong Lake, sources said that even as PLA troops continue to occupy positions on Finger 4 mountain spur jutting into the lake, Indian soldiers have occupied some heights overlooking their positions.
“Our troops have occupied some heights overlooking the positions occupied by PLA,” said a source.
The north bank of the lake is divided into 8 ‘Fingers’ that are contested by both sides. India claims Line of Actual Control at finger 8 and had been holding on to area till Finger 4 but in a clear alteration of status quo the Chinese have been camping at Finger 4 and have set up fortifications between Finger 5 and 8.
Movement of Chinese troops, vehicles and new defence mechanisms of Chinese are visible in the north, south banks of Pangong Lake. In some places heavily armed troops are in close proximity.
To de-escalate the situation, armies of India and China are holding interaction daily.
India and China are engaged in a four-month-long standoff at the LAC in eastern Ladakh. Despite several levels of dialogue, there has not been any breakthrough and the deadlock continues.