It’s been exactly a year since the first major clash between Indian and Chinese troops, at Finger 4 of the Pangong Tso (lake) in Eastern Ladakh, which then led to the worst-ever tensions between both sides since the 1962 war.
The skirmish had led to serious injuries on both sides. A year on, the situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) remains eerily calm but there has been a widening trust deficit between both countries.
While disengagement has taken place at Galwan Valley and the southern and northern banks of Pangong Tso, stand-offs and tensions continue in at least four other locations in Eastern Ladakh — Depsang Plains, Hot Springs, Gogra and Demchok.
The Chinese have pulled back troops from the Pangong Tso but they have deployed personnel at Rutog, some 70 km from the LAC.
This in effect means that while disengagement (pulling back of face-to-face troops) has taken place, de-escalation has not and the Chinese possess the ability to return to the very same spots they vacated in the Pangong Tso and elsewhere.
Similarly, India too has pulled back from the lake’s southern banks but continues to maintain a higher number of troops in the region besides those in reserve.
New Delhi has also put in place a summer strategy for Ladakh that involves key changes in deployment patterns, equipment and overall strategy.