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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/8/21

Sizable Indian soldiers move to China border amid Ladakh Standoff

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An unspecified number of Indian soldiers deployed in Kashmir to fight the popular armed insurgency has been shifted to the border with China in Ladakh, where the Chinese and Indian armies have been locked in a stand-off since March last year, according to Pravin Sawhney, a prominent Indian defense analyst.

"I can't reveal the numbers but a sizable number of Rashtriya Rifles soldiers have been moved to the Line of Actual Control (LAC)," Pravin Sawhney, a former Indian army officer and editor of defense magazine, FORCE, told Anadolu Agency.

"The fact that they have been shifted to the LAC should be an indicator enough for the reason behind the move," Sawhney added when Anadolu asked what prompted the withdrawal and redeployment.

Interestingly, Sawhney has been advocating the withdrawal of the army from 'counterinsurgency' operations in Kashmir so they could focus on border security and what he considers the bigger threat -- the People's Liberation Army.

He has also called for "making peace with Pakistan and seeking areas of cooperation with China," because India cannot fight two front war i.e. war with China and Pakistan at the same time.

The LAC is the undefined 3,488 km border [1] between India and China including in the Ladakh region, currently the site of a military standoff between Indian and Chinese armies. India moved thousands of troops to the border after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese soldiers armed with nail-studded clubs in June last year. The casualties on the Chinese side were not known.

China is believed to be holding a slice of the territory in Ladakh, which was until August 2019 part of Jammu and Kashmir but was carved out as a separate Union Territory, a move China opposed.

The Rashtriya Rifles (RR) is the name given to the Indian army's battalions that have been deployed in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990 to counter the popular anti-India insurgency that erupted the same year.

The 67,000-strong force is the largest counterinsurgency force in the world, according to FORCE magazine. For comparison, Australia has only 57,050 active military personnel.

In a tweet, Sawhney revealed that India's Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Mukund Naravane told him in an interview that "China is (now) the primary front. Rules of the game have changed." Besides the redeployment of RR troops to Ladakh, Sawhney tweeted that the "overall RR headquarters are being moved from Delhi to Udhampur." Indian army's Northern Command is headquartered in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Several telephone calls and messages from Anadolu Agency to the Srinagar-based security spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia went unanswered.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China. Since they were partitioned in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars - in 1948, 1965, and 1971 - two of them over Kashmir.

Also, in the Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire took effect in 2003. Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan. According to several human rights organizations, thousands have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.

India, China talks fail to resolve issues

11 rounds of military talks have had limited success, the only disengagement has been of front-line troops and weaponry in the Pangong Tso sector in February the Hindustan Times reported Sunday.

The Indian Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) have held 11 rounds of talks between corps commander-ranked officers since June 6, 2020 to reduce tensions along the disputed border.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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