The India-China dispute along the effective Indo-Tibetan border has dragged on for 15 months now, with little progress towards disengagement. While disengagement has taken place in the Pangong Tso lake region, the areas of Gogra and Hot Springs, along with the Depsang Plains bulge remain big points of contention. As part of the disengagement along the Pangong Tso Lake, India has had to scale back and withdraw from the Kailash range, which it had strategically positioned itself in last year to gain an advantage over the Chinese. A major reason for China agreeing to disengage at Pangong Tso was the threat posed to the PLA forces by India’s presence at the strategic heights of the Kailash range.
On 31st July, 2021, India and China held the 12th round of Corp Commander level talks in the hope of disengaging along the conflict points in Eastern Ladakh. India is hopeful of a positive outcome on the disengagement process in Hot Springs and Gogra. The meeting which lasted for 9 hours has sent out indications that China and India are close to completing the stalled troop disengagement at patrolling points 15, 17 and 17-Alpha in the Hot Springs-Gogra-Kongka La area in a phased manner.
According to a source quoted by TOI, “Nothing definite, however, can be said until the two delegations get back and are properly debriefed by their respective politico-military hierarchies, with a possible joint statement being issued in a day or two.”
The important bit, however, is that India has made it clear to China that if its patrolling rights are not restored in Depsang and if the Chinese do not withdraw from the area, the Indian Army will deploy its troops to the Kailash range. At Depsang, the Indian Army’s patrolling parties are being stopped at Patrol Point 10, 11, 11-alpha, PP-12 and PP-13. This area is just 30 kilometres away from Daulat Beg Oldie and Karakoram Range – having India’s highest airfield.
According to a report by Dainik Bhaskar, the Indian Army is well equipped and fully prepared to deploy its troops to the Kailash range with the aim of rattling China and dominating its crucial infrastructure. China’s Western Highway will be well within the Indian Army’s reach if India decides to augment its strengths at the Kailash range once again. It must be remembered that India has upped the ante against China, which is why Xi Jinping has been forced to agree towards disengagement along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh.
India is rattling China by flashing the ‘Free Tibet’ card right at the CCP’s face. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished the 14th Dalai Lama on his birthday – the first time he has done so publicly after assuming office. This rattled Xi Jinping to the extent that he was forced to visit Tibet and bordering towns with India in order to assert’s China’s hold over the occupied region. The Dalai Lama is the foremost proponent of Tibetan freedom and is currently staying in India.
As a matter of fact, India even arranged for U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to meet a top aide of the Dalai Lama, which again caused the CCP to fume. China has realised that India is not playing games, and is dead serious about its territorial sovereignty. India is no longer trying to remain in the good books of China. In a historic shift in June, at least 50,000 Indian troops were redirected to the northern border with China, taking India’s total troop tally in the region to well over 2,00,000 — signalling an increase of more than 40 per cent from last year.
China has received the intended message lock, stock and barrel. India will encircle China, and its critical infrastructure will be in the Indian Armed Forces’ direct line of sight.