China now deploys PLA battalion near Uttarakhand's Lipulekh Pass
03 August 2020
People’s Republic of China (PRC) continued its border provocation with fresh deployment of a PLA battalion near Uttarakhand’s Lipulekh Pass, in a signal that it has no intention of ending the border dispute anytime soon.
Lipulekh Pass is a tri-junction between India, Nepal and China situated atop the Kalapani Valley and the deployment coincides the Nepal government’s release of a revised official map which has included Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh, and Kalapani areas as its territory.
Meanwhile, China is buying time in the name of disengagement and maintaining peace along the LAC through diplomatic and military talks in order to strenghten its position along the LAC.
A report in the Hindustan Times said China has amassed troops across the LAC at Lipulekh Pass, parts of North Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
Lipulekh Pass has been in the news from the past few months after defence minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-km road to which Nepal objected and released a revised map showing Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura, and Kalapani as its territory.
The new road will connect the Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand with Kailash Mansarovar route in China.
Indian Army commanders say Chinese troops have bolstered strength in the depth areas, and are pushing infrastructure projects on the Chinese side, while augmenting presence on its side of the LAC elsewhere also.
China’s new move seems to be in coordination with Nepal’s Oli government which changed its political map adding the Kalapani area, including Lipulekh, which lies close to the tri-junction of India-China-Nepal.
At Lipulekh Pass, PLA has moved a battalion - approximately a 1,000 soldiers - at some distance from the border.
“It is a signal that the Chinese troops are prepared,” a second army officer said. He added that India has matched the strength of the PLA troops and is keeping a close watch on Nepal in context of its recent border claims.
“The situation on the Line of Actual Control remains dynamic with the PLA trying to emphasise its presence beyond Ladakh by building infrastructure on their side of the LAC,” the top military commander quoted above said.
In Ladakh and elsewhere, the Indian Army is getting set for a long haul through the winter irrespective of how the disengagement and de-escalation efforts work out.
New Delhi, meanwhile, is looking for emergency purchases of high-altitude clothing and snow tent and has sounded out its embassies in the US, Russia and Europe to locate manufacturers.
In case of difficulty in locating fresh supplies, there is a plan B to divert stocks from locations such as Thoise, the base station for soldiers deployed in Siachen Glacier.
Although the PLA has disengaged from patrolling points 14 (Galwan), 15-16 (Hot Springs), some of the troops are still on forward location at patrolling point 17 A (Gogra) and withdrawal from all contested finger features is a distance away at the Pangong Tso.