War of low intensity in the Himalayan China-India border


Since the bloody skirmish, the Chinese and Indian Corps Commanders have held four rounds of talks so far on June 6, 22, 30 and July 14 to de-escalate from the build-up areas in Galwan Valley, Gogra-Hot Springs and Finger area along the Pangong Tso (lake) in Ladakh. The fourth talks on July 14 went lasting for 15 hours failed to implement the disengagement process despite a consensus for full disengagement and de-escalation. On August 2, the fifth round of talks between Chinese and Indian top diplomats resumed at Moldo on the Chinese side to take forward the stalled process of disengagement on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The stumbling blocks relates to the Finger area. The ‘fingers’ are mountain spurs on the northern bank of the lake, a set of eight cliffs jutting out of the Sirijap range overlooking the Pangong Lake. India accused China’s PLA of grabbing positions on Finger Four overlooking Indian deployments, curtailing the scope of Indian patrols right up to finger 8. Fingers Four and Eight are eight kilometres apart.

At Pangong Lake, following earlier talks, Chinese troops pulled back from the base of Finger 4, where Beijing’s claimed border is, and moved to Finger 5, still well within where India sees the LAC at Finger 8.

As a sign of determination of the PLA to hold its positions on the north bank of Pangong Tso, the new constructions in the Finger Area where  set up permanent bunkers, pillboxes, observation posts and tented camps over the last three months.

De-escalation of the border conflict with China can only begin complete disengagement between the two armies along the LAC. The ground situation remains unchanged in the Ladakh sector where both armies have deployed almost 100,000 soldiers and weaponry in their forward and depth areas and are prepared for a long haul through the winter months.