For the first time since the Kargil intrusions of 1999, Indian territory is in the hands of foreign soldiers, according to Business Standard.
Starting in the third week of April, more than 5,000 Chinese soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) have intruded into five points in Ladakh - four along the Galwan River, and one near the Pangong Lake, the paper reported on Saturday, May 23.
While patrol intrusions from both sides are routine in areas where the Line of Actual Control (LAC) - the de facto border between India and China - is disputed, the LAC in the Galwan Valley corresponds to China's official claim line, Ajai Shukla of Business Standard wrote adding:
"That means that, in sending thousands of PLA troops three-to-four kilometres into the Galwan Valley, China has violated its own claim line and occupied territory that Beijing itself has traditionally acknowledged to be Indian.
"This is not shaping up like a routing patrol confrontation, or even a temporary occupation of disputed territory of the kind that took place in Depsang in 2013, or in Chumar in 2014. This time the PLA soldiers are digging defences, preparing bunkers, moving in heavy vehicles and have reportedly even moved artillery guns to the rear (albeit in their own territory) to support the intruders, say the sources.
"The Chinese have pitched close to a hundred tents at four points on the Galwan River between Patrolling Point 14 (PP 14) and another location called Gogra.
"The PLA intrusions into Ladakh do not appear to be a localized operation, since they are spread across the area of responsibility of different PLA brigades and division. That suggests centralized coordination from at least the PLA's theatre command."
The paper also reported that the PLA has stopped responding to Indian requests for flag meetings under the mutual protocol termed the "Border Management Posture" (BMP). "It is a stand-off in which there is presently no communication," a senior military officer was quoted as saying.
The unusual level of Chinese 'aggression' is illustrated by an incident at the end of April when two Chinese helicopter chased off an Indian helicopter in which the Leh Corps Commander was surveying Indian positions near the Pangong Lake.
New Indian Map
There is little clarity within government about why the Chinese have triggered this intrusion, along with another simultaneously in Sikkim, Business Standard said adding: Some officials speculate that Beijing is punishing New Delhi for publishing a revised map of the former state of Jammu & Kashmir in November, which showed Aksai Chin - which both countries claim, but China occupies - as a part of India.
Another viewpoint holds that the traditionally peaceful Galwan River has now become a hotspot because it is where the LAC is closest to the new road India has built along the Shyok River to Daulet Beg Oldi (DBO) -- the most remote and vulnerable area along the LAC in Ladakh.
Along the 800 kilometre LAC in Ladakh, there have traditionally been just five trouble spots, where the two sides dispute the LAC. These are Chumar, Demchok, Pangong and two places near DBO. The PLA's ingress into the Galwan River valley opens up a new and worrying chapter.
5 rounds of talks between India, China troops fail
At least five rounds of talks between Indian and Chinese troops this week have failed to de-escalate tension in Pangong Tso lake and Galwan Valley in Ladakh as the two sides maintained aggressive posturing in the disputed border areas, Press Trust of India quoted government sources as saying on on Friday, May 22.
The Indian Army has been matching up to the Chinese build up in both Pangong Tso lake and Galwan Valley, the two locations in Ladakh which have witnessed major reinforcement of troops in the last two weeks, sources said adding: There was very little chance of easing of tension anytime soon as both sides are aggressively holding onto their respective positions.
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).