Army chief general Manoj Mukund Naravane said in a press briefing on Tuesday that India was aware of Chinese mobilisation in eastern Ladakh, but could not anticipate their intentions.
Naravane said, “We were aware of Chinese mobilization in eastern Ladakh, but we could not anticipate their intentions. This was first mover advantage.”
This comes hours after it was reported that China had relocated up to 10,000 troops from its training facilities located around 80-100 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. However, people familiar with the developments said that they had not reduced deployment in frontline areas in the region. Naravane said, “Their training areas which were in depth areas have been vacated. But no decrease in strength in friction point."
He informed the media that the government has said, “we will stand firm against the Chinese and talks will continue".
“Friction points are there in the central and eastern sectors of the LAC where China has developed infrastructure. We keep monitoring it and factor it in our strategy," he said.
The army chief said, “We should not read too much into their presence or absence in these training areas. But we keep an eye on them because they can be mobilized by the Chinese in 48 hrs."
Speaking of the challenges faced by the Indian army, he said the biggest ones in 2020 were China and Covid-19. He said together with Pakistan China formed a “potent threat” that could not be wished away.
He said there was increased cooperation between the two countries in the the military and non-militray sphere. “A two-front threat is something we need to be prepared for," he said.
Naravane said, “Pakistan continues to embrace terrorism. We have zero-tolerance for terror. We reserve our right to respond at a time and place of our own choosing and with precision. This is a clear message we have sent across.”
The Indian and Chinese militaries have been locked in an eight-month-long border standoff in eastern Ladakh. India and China have held several rounds of diplomatic and military talks after a face-off began on May 5, 2020 following violent clashes between the two armies in the Pangong lake area. However, no concrete breakthrough has been achieved yet.
Nearly 50,000 troops from each side are deployed in a high state of combat readiness in various locations in the mountainous region braving severe cold-wave conditions.