The Indian Army is keeping its ears to the ground, warily watching the annual summer exercises launched by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in "deep areas" facing eastern Ladakh.
As a precautionary measure, the Indian Army is maintaining the operational readiness of "reserve forces" to counter any Chinese offensive at a time when the country is waging a war against the coronavirus pandemic.
A senior Indian Army official told Sputnik, "the army along with the Indian Air Force have strengthened their military posture during the 'campaigning season' in eastern Ladakh. Not just in Ladakh but all across the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control right up to Arunachal Pradesh. This is to ensure a military surge is possible if it is required".
After last year's events, the Indian Army, said officers, is not taking any chances this time. But conditions within the country have changed dramatically one year after the nation was hit by deadly waves of the coronavirus.
"The pandemic has led to the realignment of forces along the Line of Actual Control. After risk-assessment and analysis, some troops have been pulled back to support the nation in fighting the COVID crisis. While some thinning out has happened in a few stretches, areas have been identified where the guard cannot be lowered", said a highly placed Indian Army official.
Several rounds of diplomatic talks followed last year's border standoff in the Ladakh sector to diffuse tensions between the two countries. The last round of military talks was held on 9 April, but failed to achieve any breakthrough.
After rotating troops and motorised divisions in the Ladakh sector, the PLA has now also kicked off its annual summer exercises in deep areas, including Kanxiwar and Kashgar located 100 to 250 km from the Line of Actual Control.
#EXCLUSIVE - Recent Imagery from #Rutog near #PangongTso provides a glimpse into the scale & nature of #China's military commitment to the border conflict with #India, disengaged troops continue to hold here prepared for any threats towards China’s territorial claims #TheIntelLab pic.twitter.com/3OgpS33gH5— d-atis☠️ (@detresfa_) May 15, 2021
What has since become a matter of huge concern for the Indian Army is that China has ostensibly converted its temporary troop shelters, munitions depots, helipads, and surface-to-air missile positions into permanent fixtures.
The PLA also refused to pull back troops from friction sites at patrolling points in the Hot Springs-Gogra-Kongka La area in eastern Ladakh and continues to maintain considerable strength in rear areas. In the last round of diplomatic talks to diffuse the crisis in the Ladakh area, India maintained that China must back out from these friction points for any further meaningful talks to happen.
The PLA's consistent blocking of Indian patrols from going to their traditional locations in the strategically located Depsang Bulge area, which India perceives as well within its territory, is also a major sticking point for the Indian Army.