While India is sticking to mutually agreed upon protocols and agreements with China regarding management of troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), it might be reviewed at the strategic level in the future, Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Manoj Pande said on Tuesday.
“In terms of our larger guidance, strategic guidance in terms of dealing with situation on the LAC is to respect the mutually agreed protocols and agreements, and that has been our effort, notwithstanding what has been the action or response from the other side. Consequent to what happened and what we need to do in the future, is something I reckon is being looked at at the larger level.”
He added that “it is being looked as to how should be our response” at the higher levels.
Immediately after the clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in June 2020, in which 20 Indian and at least four Chinese troops were killed, India had given the soldiers a free hand, which was a drastic change from the five agreements and protocols between the two countries that have been signed since 1993.
In August and September 2020, during the jostling for heights on north and south banks of Pangong Tso, warning shots were fired by both sides, including large guns, a first in decades.
The situation in the Western Sector of the India-China boundary, in eastern Ladakh, continues to remain vexed as China had refused to reach an agreement for disengagement from Patrolling Point (PP) 15 in Hot Springs during the last Corps Commander-level meeting on October 10. China had also refused to discuss the issues at Depsang Plains, where its troops are blocking India from accessing its patrolling limits, and the situation at Demchok, where some so-called civilians have pitched tents on the Indian side of the LAC.
However, Pande said that there has been very little spillover of the situation in the eastern sector. As the Eastern Army Commander, Pande is responsible for 1346 km LAC with China from Sikkim to Arunachal Pradesh.
He stated that while there has been marginal increase in patrolling by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in certain sectors in the last year and a half, since the 17-month long standoff began in May 2020, there is no significant change in the situation when the entire eastern command is looked at.
There “has been a marginal increase” in patrolling by the PLA in some areas, he said, adding that there is “no noticeable change in their patrolling pattern when talking of the entire eastern sector”.