I've posted this picture from October 2006 before here on Livefist, but I always return to it at times like these. It feels absurd reporting on failed border meetings between the Indian Army and PLA. This border meeting I covered was notable for just how cheery it was, how little 'work' really got done, and how much officers and both sides preferred simply exchanging gifts and knocking back a few. This was Bum La in Arunachal Pradesh in a tent about a kilometre across the LAC in Tibet. Things were are pretty healthy there. Unlike in Ladakh.
The situation in Ladakh is grave. A platoon strength force of PLA soldiers has set up camp about 19-km inside Indian territory in the Depsang valley to the South-East of Daulat Beg Oldie, where India has one of its highest forward airfields. The position is supplied by trucks from two units across the LAC in Aksai China, a piece of Ladakh occupied by China for decades. The Indian Army has proposed a host of calibrated response options, but remains constrained by the government. India's Foreign Minister is scheduled to visit China on May 9, and will be followed later this month perhaps, by the Defence Minister. It is an unprecedented situation because this is the first time in a history of intrusions and counter-intrusions where a Chinese camp has refused to withdraw, and continues to be resupplied via a route back to its unit across the LAC.
An Army Searcher Mk.2 conducted two aerial sorties over the Chinese camp today to videograph activity. The video has been shared with the National Security Advisor, External Affairs Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office. Will be posting more on the stand-off in the days ahead.