It seems that India is prepared for the long haul against China at the Eastern LAC in Ladakh. As various levels of talks to defuse the situation at the LAC appears to have failed, India has warned China that its troops have the mandate to open fire in self-defence, if the need arises.
In yet another example of how India is changing the rules of engagement at the LAC, India has warned China that its soldiers have the permission to open fire to defend themselves in case of any misadventure by the People’s Liberation Army. India has also made it clear that Chinese tactics of “using mass” by seeking to outnumber Indian soldiers, will not be tolerated by the Indian Armed Forces.
“We have told our soldiers that they can open fire if there is a fear of their own safety. They can fire for self-defence,” said a top government source to ThePrint, adding that China has been told the same.
The latest development holds enormous significance as according to various bilateral agreements, both India and China are barred from firing shots. After India changed the rules of engagement and occupied the important heights along the Pangong Tso lake, shots have been fired across the border, albeit in air, thus breaking decades of silence at the border.
The fact that India has given a go-ahead to its soldiers to open fire for their own safety, reveals that India is prepared for a war with China, if the situation arises, and is in no mood to tolerate any Chinese antics or misadventures.
The timing of the warning also holds significance as the onset of the harsh winter is already taking a toll on the PLA troops. The Indian Army has observed that some of the Chinese soldiers have been stretchered off to a medical camp along the border as they developed high-altitude related issues.
India is far better prepared to handle the harsh winter with its soldiers acclimatised for the weather unlike the Chinese troops. The Indian Armed Forces also have Tibetans in their ranks, who know the region inside out. The Indian Armed Forces continue to be stationed at much higher altitudes like the Siachen glacier and hence, have a huge strategic advantage over the Chinese soldiers.
It would be understandable that keeping the inhospitable winter in mind, China would be looking to withdraw its soldiers. However, China being true to its characteristics, would like to perform a face saver exercise and perhaps give a grand ending to the stand off in order to save their Supreme Leader Xi Jinping from a major embarrassment. Hence, India warning China is important and clearly indicates that any Chinese misadventure or face saving exercise will take things at the border to a point of no return.