The Indian move to occupy the heights on the southern bank of the Pangong lake proved to be the game-changer in the entire conflict and ensuring that both sides disengaged from their forward locations. Sources said the idea to occupy the heights to gain an edge over the Chinese in the conflict zone emerged during the meetings led by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval with military commanders including Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and Army chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane.
In a swift operation carried out between August 29 to August 30, the Indian Army captured important strategic heights overlooking Chinese positions including Rezang La, Richen La, and Mokhpari along with several other important heights in that complex. The sources said the idea of using the Special Frontier Force including Tibetans to carry out the operations also emerged during these meetings involving military commanders.
Sources in the security establishment said in the military segment of dealing with the aggression done by the Chinese Army, CDS Gen Rawat, Army chief Gen Naravane and Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria played a key role in implementing the Indian response. The sources also credited the close coordination between the security forces including the Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police in the eastern sector for not allowing the Chinese to carry out any aggression there. Lt Gen Anil Chauhan is the Eastern Army commander and SS Deswal is the head of ITBP.
The sources said the deployment of fighter assets of the Indian Air Force and the quick deployment of the Rafale fighters along with the other fleets also sent out a clear message to the adversary on the extent to which the Indian side was willing to go to tackle their aggression. The Army also deployed its troops heavily in all sectors to deal with the situation but the bargaining chip to convince the Chinese from leaving the northern bank came only after the southern bank operations.
Army chief Gen Naravane credited the whole of the nation approach for the disengagement between the two sides around February 10 from both banks of the Pangong lake and mentioned the NSA for his suggestions for military response in the conflict. “We had a number of meetings and in these, the advice is given by our NSA also came in extremely handy. His insight into strategic affairs and matters definitely helped us in chalking out our response,” the chief said in a webinar on Wednesday.