India deploys specialised mountain forces, changes weapon rules along LAC after Ladakh clash

Reacting to new rules for using firearms, Chinese government mouthpiece tweeted, ‘if true, this is a serious violation of agreement, & the Indian side will pay a heavy price’

New Delhi: India has deployed its specialised high altitude warfare forces along the 3,488 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) in either western, middle or eastern sectors, in order to ‘deter any trespassing’ by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA)

Specialised forces trained over the past decades for fighting on the northern front have been pushed up to the frontier to impose military costs if the red flag goes up. Unlike the PLA which moves in infantry combat vehicles and paved metalled roads, the Indian mountain troops are trained in guerrilla warfare and fighting in high altitude.

“The art of mountain fighting is the toughest as the cost of human casualties is 10 to each troop of the adversary sitting on a height. The troops from Uttarakhand, Ladakh, Gorkha, Arunachal and Sikkim have adapted to the rarefied heights over centuries and hence their capability of fighting is close-quarter combats is without match. The artillery and the missiles have to have pin-pointed accuracy or else they miss the mountain target by miles,” said a former Indian Army chief.

Changing the decades-old rules of engagement within less than a week after a violent face-off in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed, the Indian army has changed rules of engagement – the agreements signed in 1996 and 2005 – along the LAC with China: empowering field commanders to sanction the use of firearms under ”extraordinary” circumstances.

Under previous rules, the two countries had agreed to not open fire on one another and not to use blasting explosives or firearms within two kilometers of either side of the LAC.

Reacting to the Indian Army’s new rules for using firearms, Hu Xijin, the Editor-in-Chief of the Chinese government’s mouthpiece Global Times tweeted, “if true, this is a serious violation of agreement, & the Indian side will pay a heavy price for any such action.”

Tensions are high between India and China as the Government of India has given powers to the armed forces to make emergency procurements to stock up its war reserves amid tension building up on the LAC.

Air Force assets, including fighters, have been moved up to forward locations.

Navy has also been given the go-ahead to deploy its assets near the Malacca Strait and, if needed, anywhere else in the Indo-Pacific to counter Chinese action

Economic Times had reported that the government did not want to leave anything to chance at this stage, especially after the violence in Galwan which left atleast 20 Indian soldiers dead.

Prime Minster of India Narendra Modi has said that the ‘sacrifices of soldiers’ along the border with China will not go in vain. India wants peace but is capable of giving befitting reply, if instigated, he said.

The external affairs ministry has said the escalation in Galwan Valley of Ladakh happened “as a result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there”.

China has accused India of crossing the border and attacking Chinese personnel, and called on India to “not take unilateral actions or stir up trouble.”

The armies of India and China are locked in a tense standoff at three points in eastern Ladakh, wherein China has reportedly occupied 60 sq. kilometres of territory claimed by India.

A Chinese diplomat reacting to the standoff in Ladakh has said that the move is linked to the Indian government’s unilateral decision to scrap Article 370 in August last year.

The move changed the laws that prohibited Indians from buying land in Kashmir, and made the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir defunct, triggering fears of demographic change in the Muslim majority region of Kashmir.

When India scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5 last year, the Chinese foreign ministry had issued two statements criticising the development, including one that focused on the splitting of the state into union territories.

This statement, while urging India to be “cautious” on the border issue and to avoid “actions that further complicate the border issue”, said: “China has always opposed India’s inclusion of Chinese territory in India’s administrative jurisdiction in the western part of the Sino-Indian border.” This was a reference to the area in Ladakh that New Delhi claims but is controlled by Beijing.


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