China in Ladakh: India caught napping – Sree Iyer

India-China Conflict 2020

Sree IyerThe US warned India on April 20th that the Chinese were amassing troops on the LAC. The warnings were repeated at least a couple of times in the following days. Yet, the officials in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), allegedly sympathetic to Russia, advised the Government to do nothing. – Sree Iyer

The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is just a position … in the demarcation of what separates India and China. From the length of LAC itself, the two sides disagree—India considers it to be 3488 km. long while China thinks it is only around 2000 km[1]. There are many articles that deal with the nuances of what constitutes the LAC and so on but this post is not on that. What is sad is that despite ample early warnings given by the United States (US), India, for reasons best known to itself, indulged in masterly inactivity for a critical two-week period, that has led to it now demanding that the LAC as it existed on April 4, 2020, be agreed to. What it means (but not mentioned explicitly) is that the Chinese have made incursions in three to four points and India is asking them to retreat to the positions as existing on April 4th. How did things come to this?

The US warned India on April 20th

Looking at the troop movements and construction activity along the LAC, the US warned India that the Chinese were massing up troops, according to reliable sources. The warnings were repeated at least a couple of times in the following days. Yet, the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), allegedly sympathetic to Russia, advised the Government to do nothing. This was because the pro-Russian elements in the Armed Forces and MoD who were concerned about the build-up and contacted the Russians were told that the Chinese would not cross. But clearly the Chinese had different ideas. By the time reality dawned and India sent troops, they were horribly outnumbered.

A few days later, on the 27th the Intelligence Bureau (IB) flagged the movement of Chinese troops into Indian territory with no resistance from the Indian side. Since the line is not clearly drawn, there have been instances of incursions on part of both sides into the other’s territory while doing patrols and they have retreated in the past. But the evidence of construction in Ngari Gunsa Airport, near the Indian border, shows significant construction on part of the Chinese. The combination of two satellite pictures of the Airport taken on April 1 and May 17th, show the amount of construction activity that has taken place.

But the Chinese object to India constructing bridges and upgrading their roads inside Indian territory! Whether it is this activity or the statement by the Home Minister of India that India will take back Aksai Chin whatever be the cost, that got the goat of the Chinese, one will never know. But the reality is that there was significant activity on the Chinese side, that was not matched on the Indian side. Of this masterly inactivity, someone in the Indian setup has to answer[2].

Ngari Gunsa Airport: Construction at Ngari Gunsa airport near the Indian border. Left pic was taken on Apr 1 and right on May 17, 2020.

Did MHA goof up?

The activity on the LAC was reported by the IB to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) too. The reason is that the  Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) comes under the MHA and a matter of this importance should have been cleared in a matter of hours and the Minister alerted. But according to reliable sources, a Babu sat on it for two weeks and finally the Indian Government woke up to the reality on May 16th. But by that time, China had entered up to four kilometers within the Indian side. Not only that, several tanks, and artillery equipment have also moved in. All signs indicate that China is in for the long haul. Several skirmishes between the two armies have resulted in 90 on the Indian side and 140 on the Chinese side being hospitalized.

PM swings into action

Prime Minister Modi was apprised of the situation around the 20th of May and acted decisively. Reinforcements and troops are on the way to the border areas, but is it too little too late? On May 27th, after troops being hospitalized on both sides, talks were mooted and the first round took place on June 6th.

Things that need to be addressed ASAP

There was a deliberate attempt to slow things down, to tamp the information flow in various departments of the government. PM Modi needs to crack down and address this right away. Some babus appear to be holding a torch for the previous regime and may have done this in a deliberate manner. If financial intelligence sources are to be believed, a certain family has moved a significant portion of their illegally amassed wealth to Macao, a Chinese territory. That a member of the Lok Sabha from that party made a statement daring China to act in a tweet only to tuck his tail between his legs and delete it hours later, hints at a sudden twist in the play.

Modi needs to listen to China experts and act quickly and decisively and India can thwart the Dragon’s designs and match them eyeball for eyeball[3]. PGURUS, 8 June 2020

Sree Iyer is an author, publisher, inventor and political commentator out of San Francisco.


  1. Line of Actual Control: Where it is located, and where India and China differ – Jun 6, 2020, Indian Express
  2. AP Explains: What’s behind latest India-China border tension – May 30, 2020, Washington Post
  3. India won’t bow to  China’s bullying – Prof M D Nalapat, Jayadev Ranade with Rishabh Gulati – Jun 7, 2020, NewsX

Indian troops at LAC in Ladakh 2020


3 Responses

  1. Chinese troops prepare for Ladakh (June 2020)

    Chinese army carries out large-scale drill to check preparedness at border with India – Sutirtho Patranobis – Hindustan Times – New Delhi – June 8, 2020

    The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has carried out a large-scale drill involving thousands of paratroopers to check its preparedness in transporting soldiers and armoured vehicles from a central Chinese province to border areas to the northwest of the country.

    The largescale “maneuver operation” was done in the backdrop of the ongoing border standoff with India, the nationalistic tabloid Global Times and national broadcaster CCTV said in reports.

    The news on Chinese state media came out on a day when New Delhi said that India and China will continue military and diplomatic engagements to resolve a weeks-old standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

    This was after talks were held between delegations led Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, commander of Leh-based 14 Corps and a delegation led by Major General Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang military region, at Moldo on the Chinese side of the LAC on Saturday.

    The reports didn’t give the location where the soldiers and the armoured vehicles were transported to but said enough to indicate that the drill was a message to India.

    Using civilian airlines, logistical transportation channels and railways, several thousand paratroopers under a PLA Air Force airborne brigade recently maneuvered from Hubei, which is in central China, to an undisclosed location in the plateaus of northwestern China thousands of kilometres away, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Saturday.

    “Several hundred pieces of military equipment including armoured vehicles and huge batches of supplies were also involved in the operation, which ended successfully in just a few hours,” the report said.

    The maneuver was completed in a few hours, the report said.

    “This maneuver mission saw significant breakthroughs not only in the scale of mobilised troops but also means of transportation. [Using civilian transportation] substantially expanded our means of transporting forces and increased efficiency in maneuvering an entire organisation of troops,” Major Colonel Mao Lei, head of the training department at the airborne brigade, said on CCTV.

    “Groups of tanks and armored vehicles attached to the 76th Group Army under the PLA Western Theater Command also conducted a long-distance maneuver on May 14,” according to Chinese military media outlet China Military, quoted by GT.

    Last week, another report in the Global Times had said that the PLA’s Tibet Military Command recently “…sent troops to a high-altitude region at an elevation of 4,700 meters at night for infiltration exercises behind enemy lines and tested their combat capability under a harsh environment”.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: