Following the border tensions between India and China that turned violent and led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers, former GOC-in-C Lt Gen HS Panag has said that China fears India could launch a military operation.
Panag said that India “misread the situation” on the Ladakh border as the “Chinese came with a clear intent” and “carried out a tactical operation to seize certain areas” on the Indian side of the line of actual control (LAC).
He added that China intended to stop India’s infrastructure work towards Aksai Chin and specifically selected areas “where we were building roads leading to Aksai Chin.”
Panag said that both the countries have become cautions after violent clashes and China fears India could launch a military operation. He reasoned that China would have “to seize the heights in order to dominate the Galwan region” in Ladakh.
Through their continuous incursions into the Indian territory over the past couple of months, Chinese troops are now 2-3 kilometres in Indian territory in the hot springs area and has seized area up to Finger Four in Pangong Tso, said Panag. The Chinese troops are physically occupying 40 square kilometres at Pangong Tso, he added.
Such an assault has not been seen in 200 years, said the former GOC-in-C Lt Gen.
He added that India made the mistake of looking at the situation as just a border issue. Chinese intrusions at multiple locations were signs of China's intention, he reasoned.
Both Indian and Chinese troops do not carry arms in the region for fear of escalating tensions between the two nuclear-powered countries. However, Panag argued that the 1996 agreement between the two nations does not restrain Indian side from carrying arms. He added that the violent clash wouldn’t have taken place had Indian soldiers been armed.
He went on to exhort the Indian establishment to exploit the incident diplomatically and urged the India and China to engage politically.
Panag stated that India can “recover areas where China has intruded”, but added that “India must not react immediately as China is ready.”
Experts discuss the way forward for India as Ladkah standoff with China continues