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Army commanders deliberate on situation in Ladakh for second consecutive day

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NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian Army rushed in additional troops and weaponry to eastern Ladakh as part of its strategy to fend off China's aggressive military behaviour with "firmness", even as top Army commanders deliberated on the delicate situation in the region for the second consecutive day on Thursday, official sources said.

They said military reinforcements, including troops, vehicles and equipment, were sent to shore up Indian presence in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie.

The Army commanders extensively deliberated on the situation in eastern Ladakh on the opening day of a three-day conference on Wednesday as well.

The conference, which is being chaired by Army Chief Gen MM Naravane, also reviewed anti-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir as well as in certain areas in the North Eastern region, the sources said.

The Indian Army will continue to maintain its aggressive posturing in all disputed areas in eastern Ladakh and will not back off till status quo is maintained, they said.

The sources said the Indian Army has significantly bolstered its strength in eastern Ladakh and even brought in artillery guns.

The commanders' conference was originally scheduled to be held from April 13-18, but it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The biannual army commanders conference is held in April and October every year.

The second phase of the conference will take place in the last week of June.

In the meantime, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said India was engaged with China at military and diplomatic levels to resolve the border standoff in eastern Ladakh, but at the same time asserted that the country is "firm" in its resolve to protect its sovereignty and national security.

He said India is committed to the objective of maintenance of peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and that Indian troops take a very responsible approach towards border management.

The situation in eastern Ladakh deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on the evening of May 5 which spilled over to the next day before the two sides agreed to "disengage" following a meeting at the level of local commanders.

Over 100 Indian and Chinese soldiers were injured in the violence.

The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9.

On the face-off in eastern Ladakh, India last week said that it has always taken a very responsible approach towards border management but the Chinese military was hindering normal patrolling by its troops.

It is learnt that both India and China are looking at a solution to the issue through talks.

On May 5, the Indian and Chinese army personnel clashed with iron rods, sticks, and even resorted to stone-pelting in the Pangong Tso lake area in which soldiers on both sides suffered injuries.

In a separate incident, nearly 150 Indian and Chinese military personnel were engaged in a face-off near Naku La Pass in the Sikkim sector on May 9. At least 10 soldiers from both sides suffered injuries.

The troops of India and China were engaged in a 73-day stand-off in Doklam tri-junction in 2017 which even triggered fears of a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LAC. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it.

Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas.

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