India’s acknowledgement of a fresh faceoff with Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) reflects the grim reality of the situation along the disputed border after several rounds of talks couldn’t take forward the disengagement process, experts said.
A statement from the Indian Army said soldiers had pre-empted “provocative military movements” by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to change the status quo on the night of August 29-30. It added that these actions “violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements” during the standoff in Eastern Ladakh that began in early May.
Over the past few weeks, after several rounds of talks between corps commanders on the ground and the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs, the differences between the two sides on the disengagement and de-escalation process have emerged in the open.
The Chinese side has even referred to both sides having “positively evaluated the progress” in disengagement, but the Indian side has insisted that the process remains a work in progress and more needs to be done to take it forward.
At the last weekly news briefing of the external affairs ministry, spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said “complete disengagement requires re-deployment of troops by each side towards their regular posts on their respective sides of the LAC”, which can be done only through “mutually agreed reciprocal actions” by both sides.
Former navy chief Admiral (retired) Arun Prakash said the time had come for the Indian side to do a “reality check and prepare for the worst”. He added, “It’s a grim situation.”
The Indian side, Prakash believes, has misread the situation especially since the actions of the Chinese side have often differed from it said. “They seem to have decided to restore their boundary to whatever it was according to th