Indian army chief visits troops near troubled China border

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Indian soldiers walk at the foothills of a mountain range near Leh, the joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh. (AFP)

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Indian army chief visits troops near troubled China border

  • The trip comes amid news reports that the Chinese army had crossed the disputed border in another strategic area in the Depsang Plains
  • China on Wednesday again accused India of provoking the clash

    NEW DELHI: India’s army chief visited the Himalayan border region with China to review his troops’ preparedness after hand-to-hand combat between Indian and Chinese soldiers left 20 Indians dead earlier this month, the army said Thursday.

Gen. M.M. Naravane also visited injured soldiers in a hospital in Leh, Ladakh’s region largest city, on Wednesday.

An army tweet said that Naravane visited “forward areas in eastern Ladakh and reviewed operation situation on the ground.”

The trip comes amid news reports that the Chinese army had crossed the disputed border in another strategic area in the Depsang Plains. There was no immediate comment by the Indian army.

The Indian Express newspaper reported that the intrusion was seen as another attempt by the Chinese to shift the Line of Actual Control farther west on the disputed border.

Rahul Bedi, a defense analyst, said that despite claims of mutual disengagement, the tensions between Indian and China forces were still high in the Leh sector.

“India is trying to match China’s military assets in the region. The Chinese have ingressed disputed areas where both sides are trying to maneuver the situation to their advantage,” Bedi said, adding that he didn’t see a quick end to the crisis.

China on Wednesday again accused India of provoking the clash, but urged New Delhi to “meet China halfway” in restoring peace and stability along their disputed frontier.
Indian and Chinese military commanders agreed on Monday to disengage their forces in their first meeting since the confrontation.

On Wednesday, Indian and Chinese officials participated in a video conference and reaffirmed that both sides should sincerely implement the understanding on disengagement and de-escalation reached by their army commanders, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said in a statement.

The clash was the deadliest between the two countries in 45 years. India said 20 of its soldiers died. China has not released any information on casualties on its side.

Soldiers brawled with clubs, rocks and their fists at 4,270 meters above sea level, but no shots were fired, Indian officials have said. The soldiers carry firearms but are not allowed to use them under a previous agreement in the border dispute.

Indian security officials said the fatalities were caused by severe injuries and exposure to subfreezing temperatures.

The Galwan Valley, where the clash occurred, falls within a remote stretch of the 3,380-kilometer Line of Actual Control — the border established following a war between India and China in 1962 that resulted in an uneasy truce.

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