CDS briefs Parliament’s PAC on situation at LAC in Ladakh; says armed forces ready for long haul

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NEW DELHI, Aug 11 (PTI): Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat has told a parliamentary committee that the country’s armed forces are prepared to deal with any eventualities along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, and are ready for a long haul even during the harsh winter months, sources in the panel said on Tuesday.

Gen Rawat made the remarks when he along with top commanders of the Army appeared before the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday on the issue of procurement of high-altitude clothing for the armed forces, they said.

During the interaction, several PAC members sought to know from Gen Rawat about the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in the eastern Ladakh region to which the CDS responded that the armed forces are prepared for any eventualities, the sources said.

Gen Rawat appeared confident and clearly conveyed to the panel that the armed forces are prepared for a long haul in the region, they said. The PAC is headed by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

India and China have been holding diplomatic and military talks on disengagement of troops from all the friction points in eastern Ladakh.

At the latest round of military talks, the Indian side insisted forcefully on complete disengagement of Chinese troops at the earliest, and immediate restoration of status quo ante in all areas of eastern Ladakh prior to May 5 when the standoff began following a clash between the two armies in Pangong Tso.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army(PLA) has pulled back from Galwan Valley and certain other friction points but the withdrawal of its troops has not moved forward from the Finger areas in Pangong Tso, Gogra and Depsang as demanded by India, according to sources.

India has been insisting that China must withdraw its forces from areas between Finger Four and Eight. The mountain spurs in the area are referred to as Fingers.

The formal process of disengagement of troops began on July 6, a day after a nearly two-hour telephonic conversation between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on ways to bring down tensions in the area.

Considering the situation on the ground, the Indian Army and the IAF have decided to maintain a very high-level of operational readiness in all areas along the LAC in Ladakh, North Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh till a “satisfactory” resolution to the border row with China is arrived at, military sources had said last week.

Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane has already conveyed to all the senior commanders of the Army, overseeing operation of the frontline formations along the LAC, to maintain a significantly high state of alertness to deal with any Chinese “misadventure”, they said.

The Indian army has already made elaborate plans to maintain the current strength of troops and weapons along the LAC during the harsh winter months in eastern Ladakh and all other sensitive areas along the LAC.

It is also in the process of procuring a number of weapons, ammunition and winter gears for the frontline troops The temperature in some of the high-altitude areas along the LAC drops to minus 25 degree celsius in the winter months.

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