Galwan pullback puts Indian troops further from LAC, face-off continues in other sectors - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Wednesday 8 July 2020

Galwan pullback puts Indian troops further from LAC, face-off continues in other sectors

Based on the reference point from where deployment distances have been counted, the disengagement plan shifts the LAC by a kilometre to India's disadvantage 

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 9th July 20

Details of the mutual troop disengagement in the contested Galwan River valley, which senior government sources have shared with Business Standard, illustrate that the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the de facto border – has been effectively shifted by a kilometre (km) into India.

The terms of disengagement, negotiated on June 30 between senior military commanders from both sides, regard the LAC as running through the so-called Y-Nallah Junction. This is one km inside India, when compared with the LAC’s historical alignment next to Patrolling Point 14 (PP-14). 

The area in which PP-14 is located – and which the Indian Army has patrolled for decades – now effectively falls inside China’s “buffer zone”.

The disengagement plan, drawn up by India’s Leh corps commander, Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, and China’s South Xinjiang Military Region commander, Major General Liu Lin, provides for a “buffer zone” of three km on both the Indian and Chinese sides of the LAC.

The plan permits each country to maintain two “tent posts” in its “buffer zone”. The forward “tent post” will be located 1.4 km from the Y-junction. Their second “tent post” will be 1.6 km further behind the forward post, i.e. three km from the Y-Junction.

Each country is permitted to maintain 30 soldiers in its forward “tent post” and another 50 soldiers in its rear “tent post” – adding up to 80 soldiers each. 

A “tent post”, as its name suggests, is an encampment that has only temporary structures. Permanent structures would allow India to stake a claim over the Galwan valley. 

By restricting the Indian presence to “tent camps”, China can continue with its new claim over the entire Galwan River valley – which it has voiced several times in the past two months.

Army sources point out that, by measuring all distances from the Y-Junction, rather than from the traditional LAC alignment west of PP-14, the Y-Junction has been effectively regarded as the LAC point.

It is learnt that this was done on the insistence of Chinese military negotiators. New Delhi continues to insist that the LAC runs along the line of PP-14, but has undermined its own claim by agreeing to locate its forward “tent post” 2.4 km from what it claims is the LAC, while allowing the Chinese forward “tent post” to be just 400 metres from our claimed LAC.

For now, neither country is permitted to send patrols ahead of their forward “tent post”. That means the Indian army, which earlier sent patrols all the way up the Galwan River valley to PP-14, will have to maintain a distance of 2.4 km from PP-14. In contrast, Chinese patrols can come up to 400 metres from PP-14.

Meanwhile, no agreement has been reached for the Chinese to disengage or pull back from confrontation points south of Galwan at PP-15 and Hot Spring area, where large numbers of Indian and Chinese soldiers continue their face-off.

Near PP-15, where the Chinese have built a road extending 3 km into Indian-claimed territory, more than 1,000 Chinese troops are eyeball-to-eyeball with an equal number of Indian soldiers.

In the Hot Spring area, the Chinese have not built a road, but over 1,500 Chinese troops have intruded 2-3 km into Indian territory at the Gogra Heights (PP-17A) and are being blocked by a matching Indian deployment.

Nor is there any agreement on disengagement in the Pangong Tso sector. Here, Chinese troops have crossed the existing LAC that ran along a mountain spur called Finger 8 and intruded 8 km into Indian-claimed territory up to a spur called Finger 4.

Indian troops have traditionally patrolled up to Finger 8, but are now being blocked by the Chinese intruders at Finger 4. It is understood the Chinese are refusing to withdraw to Finger 8 unless India withdraws to Finger 2.

Indian Army planners find themselves contemplating the possibility of more Chinese intrusions along the contested 3,488-km border. That could lead to the army having to man a “hardened LAC” around the year, like the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan.

Besides the heavy cost of setting up this border infrastructure, the Indian army – which already spends three quarters of its budget on salaries and pensions – could find itself requiring even more manpower. 

Army planners also worry that a heated LAC, with an additional commitment of troops and equipment, would erode India's conventional first-strike deterrent against Pakistan.


  1. Super first-time analysis not found anywhere. The map is a bit grainy though.

  2. sir, can you please show how all this relates to their 1959 'claim line'? I have been reading the detailed analysis that you and mr. sawhney have been presenting, and the '1959 chinese claim line' seems to pop up in the whole thing quite a bit. can you please show that on the map?

    anirban mitra

  3. Disappointing state of affairs. This withdrawal is on China's terms and we have renounced our claim on our very own territory

  4. A known critic with of modi government can not wait for a few more days or weeks when the final outcome of this process of de- escalation happens.

  5. How can you say these things without being on ground. Clash took places near pp 15 and bufure zone away from this point so how it becomes inside India territory and it is just an stopgate arrangement patrolling will resume in near future. You are nursing some grudges and spreading misinformation and saying army and govt are fool enough to be commit such stupidity

  6. As one feared, once again a literal sell out. What can you say when the own military commander is failing and the members in national security advisory board are propagating the same. We had an upper hand in Galwan, have frittered it away and there is no hope in hell for lake or Depsang.

  7. I want to subscribe to this blog.

  8. Shukla ji, I do follow your posts regularly. Are you saying that Indian Army is just letting the land go? Are they not willing to fight for status quo ante? Are there practical reasons why this may not be possible as China is stronger than India.

    About LAC being hot and needing to man it throughout the year, that is not really a choice that Indian Army can make as China is the one who is adventurous other than getting into bloody conflict what options do we have, or is the suggestion that we should go in and fight? Wondering if we havent fought in the past as it is not practical?

  9. Its all bukwas by indian media no pull back last 7indian soldiers were kiied by chines army

  10. Why is it that , india never attempted incursion into China to achieve better advantage in negotiations in the present deadlock, where India tends to lose territory in the present situation.

  11. Bakwas without any substance

  12. How far from reality are people in this country, take Tibet it seems, talk of Hongkong and Taiwan it seems. All the Chinese need to do is put up a few camps near Putao and train the NE insurgent groups and arm them to the teeth. Thats it. Always talking out of their bottoms.

  13. Your government sources are not being truthful up to the Shyok river in the Galwan valley is being claimed.
    Just wait and see, the allowing of Indian patrols anywhere in Galwan is a concession by China and when the time is right this concession my be withdrawn.

  14. Col. Ajai shukla is telling the truth that is not going down the throat of many. Remember when govt was busy denying any issues at the border for the month, it was this person who broke the news. And after few days the news came out fo be true. Then the national media started debating. I still remember Republic TV anchorperson Gaurav Arya telling that ajai shukla and journalists like him know nothing like him. He said that he used to man the LAC himself and that whatever ajai had written in this whistle blowing article was wrong and imaginary.

  15. It has to be confirmed but sound dangerous plot by our own govt.
    Serious if true,is it possible.
    There is only one reason if it's true it's


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