China has opened a new front -- this time near the south bank of the lake Pangong Tso -- by carrying out provocative military manoeuvres in a bid to change the contours of the area under their control.
According to information available with news portals, the intrusion took place in the dead of the night at around 11 pm on August 29 when a large number of Chinese soldiers – 200 according to one account -- descended from the ridge along the south bank of the lake.
The intent was to unilaterally occupy areas but they ran into a well-fortified Indian position. As often happens in such skirmishes, both sides jostled for a few minutes but with Indians standing their ground, the Chinese withdrew from the flashpoint.
According to media sources, a sizeable Indian cluster remains at the site of escalation, ready to respond. Adopting an aggressive posture, China said its military "is taking necessary countermeasures".
The Xi Jinping regime also sounded unusually belligerent and warned that border tensions will "surely escalate this time," since India had "crossed the LAC and purposely launched provocations." The statement issued in Chinese State-run Global Times came after India Army put out a statement saying that it had pre-emptively thwarted Chinese intentions to unilaterally change the status quo on the southern bank of Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh.
However, China rejected the statement, claiming that Indian troops had "illegally crossed the Line of Actual Control, which is a severe violation of the consensus reached at the multi-level talks between the two countries," the People's Liberation Army Western Theatre Command said on Monday night.
Unlike earlier, when skirmishes between the two sides were reported by way of selective leaks, this time the Indian Army has put out a statement recording the event that took place on the intervening night of August 29 and 30.
Chinese soldiers continue to occupy positions in depth on slopes along Finger 5 and on slopes extending towards Finger 8, satellite pictures show. India believes the Line of Actual Control lies at Finger 8, near Fort Khurnak, a historic site in the area. China believes the LAC is at Finger 4 and has prevented Indian soldiers from patrolling beyond the point since April.
A Brigade Commander level Flag Meeting is in progress at Chushul to resolve the issues.
After the Galwan Valley incident, the government has given the armed forces "full freedom" to give a "befitting" response to any Chinese misadventure along the LAC. Bipin Rawat is on record having said recently that India is keeping the military option open.
Hours after India thwarted China’s attempt, R K Mathur, Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, reached Delhi to brief the authorities about the latest face-off. The traffic on Ladakh highway has been stopped to facilitate troop movement.