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Saturday, Jul 04, 2020 15:00 [IST]

Last Update: Saturday, Jul 04, 2020 09:20 [IST]

Loud and clear

In a direct message to China, Prime Minister NarendraModi made a surprise visit to Ladakh today, where Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a military stand-off for about two months. Modi’s visit comes after defence minister Rajnath Singh’s trip was postponed a day earlier. Modi was accompanied by the chief of defence staff general BipinRawat and Army chief M.M. Naravane. Modi visited a forward post in Ladakh called Nimu, where he was briefed by senior Army officials, and interacted with personnel of various wings of the armed forces.
Friday marks Naravane’s third visit to Ladakh since the standoff began in May. He visited the XIV Corps headquarters in Leh on his first visit, while on his second, he met the injured soldiers and visited forward areas.
Indian and Chinese troops have been involved in a face-off at multiple locations in the region. The friction points include North bank of PangongTso, Hot Springs, Vohra Post and Galwan Valley. While at PangongTso, China has built substantial structures till Finger 4, which is 8 km west of India’s claim of LAC at Finger 8; they have also built some structures at Patrolling Point 14 in the Galwan Valley.
China has also crossed the border at Depsang Plains, which is close to India’s strategically-important Daulat Beg Oldie post near Karakoram Pass in the north. The other major concern has been the heavy military build-up in the depth areas by China, which has been mirrored by India by moving in additional divisions and air defence assets.
The Prime Minister's visit served as a morale booster for the forces and a powerful message to China, which has shown unrelenting aggression at the border with incursions spotted in satellite images, after a 15 June clash with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley left 20 Indian soldiers dead and dozens others injured. It also underscores the apparent synergy between India’s political and the military leadership. The visit is an expression of solidarity with the soldiers who face the brunt of Chinese aggression in the Himalayan region. Unlike India, which is a flourishing democracy and laid its martyred soldiers to rest with full military honours, China hasn’t even officially acknowledged the casualties it suffered in the Galwan fight.
China has been under a global glare for allegedly hiding its coronavirus outbreak for too long before admitting an epidemic, and not doing enough to prevent it from crossing its borders to other countries. Today, the country is flexing muscle in Asia—its actions in Hong Kong have also appalled the world—in what seems like a self-declaration of superpower-hood. The US appears unable to do much about its behaviour, and, going by the transactional approach taken by the White House, it may be interested only in a few trade gains that could make an electoral difference. American myopia suits Beijing well. But India cannot afford to ease its vigilance.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi