After Doklam, Line of Actual Control in Ladakh a worry for Army

Even as the two-month-long standoff at Doklam between soldiers of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) and the Indian Army near border tri-junction in Bhutan has ended, Chinese threat along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir continues to remain a worry. J&K shares 826-km long LAC with Chinese-occupied Tibet.
While the recent scuffle and stone-throwing between border guards near Pangong Tso (lake), 165 km from Leh, on August 15 during the Doklam crisis holds a great significance in the border dispute along the 3,488-km LAC, defence experts say it should not be seen in isolation, keeping in view the strategic and logistic vulnerabilities of India in the sector.
This presumption also assumes importance following the statement of Army Chief Bipin Rawat that “Chinese side is attempting to change the status quo on the LAC and Doklam-like incidents are likely to increase in the future.”
In Ladakh, Chinese are in better position than in Doklam. Making the area a major flashpoint in future suits its all-weather friend Pakistan and will put pressure on the Indian government also. On Independence Day, rather than attending the customary meeting, PLA men attacked soldiers after intruding on this side.
Chinese have always been aggressive as there have been several standoffs with the PLA in recent years, especially at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), Pangong Tso and Demchok.
In order to defuse tensions, besides the meeting point at Chushul, another point was opened at the Daulat Beg Oldie post in 2013 but that has not brought any respite from the aggressive PLA.
“Chinese have a habit of incursions in the sector as it falls near the strategic Demchok-Dugti-Chushul axis but it is also the entry point for PLA delegations to visit the border meeting point at Chushul, about 38 km from the lake, where commanders of both armies meet on important national days. This year on Independence Day they chose to attack our soldiers” said a senior Army officer.
The 135-km-long land-locked Pangong lake is situated 14,270 ft above the sea level. It saw intense fighting during the 1962 Sino-Indian war, leaving India controlling a 45-km portion of the lake while China gained 90 km of the water body. However, Chinese have left no stone unturned to encroach the area.
“The primary reason for activating the LAC was to exert counter-pressure on Doklam and tying down the Indian Army along a long, stretched front. What is crucial is that the Chinese activation of a forward policy will reduce the Indian Army’s pressure on Pakistan as it ties down war-fighting reserves. This is in pursuit of the strategic Sino-Pakistan convergence. Transgressions across the LAC this year have touched 500,” said Vikramjeet Singh, a defence expert who writes on military affairs.
From the video which surfaced on social media a week ago, it was obvious that the attack was initiated by PLA men on Indian soldiers, who stopped transgression. At least two Indian soldiers received head injuries.
“China is playing both psychological and strategic game to dismantle the northern frontier of India in the Himalayas. In the 1962 war, they had launched a massive assault through the area to affect Indian defence in the Chushul valley,” said Dr Mahesh Kaul, strategic expert and consultant, Centre for Good Governance & Administrative Reforms.