Defence minister Rajnath Singh will review the operational situation and military preparedness in the north-east sector during a visit over the weekend, amidst the continuing military confrontation in eastern Ladakh with China.
On Saturday he will leave for the Sukna-based 33 Corps, a crucial Army formation that has the 17 (Gangtok), 27 (Kalimpong) and 20 (Binnaguri) Mountain Divisions (each division has 10,000-12,000 soldiers) earmarked for the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
Then on Sunday he will visit Sherathang, Nathu La and other forward areas near the LAC in Sikkim. “The minister will get briefings and interact with troops during the visit. He will also perform shastra puja’ at one of the forward locations on the occasion of Dussehra,” said an official.
Rajnath Singh will also review the progress of some infrastructure projects under Project Swastik of the Borders Roads Organization in the sector, including the JNM alternate access route in Sikkim.
India has kept all Army formations and IAF air-bases geared towards the three sectors of the unresolved 3,488-km LAC – western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal) – in a high state of alert in response to the Chinese military build-up along the border.
In eastern Ladakh alone, over 50,000 soldiers each from the two armies, backed by tanks, howitzers and other weapon systems, continue to be ranged against each other despite the winter fast setting in there. China has been offering “piecemeal” steps in the military talks till now, while India has stuck to its stand of “complete de-escalation” at the troop face-off sites as well as along the entire LAC in eastern Ladakh.
India has also rejected China’s demand that its troops first vacate the tactical heights they preemptively occupied on the ridge line stretching from Thakung on the south bank of Pangong Tso to Gurung Hill, Spanggur Gap, Magar Hill, Mukhpari, Rezang La and Reqin La (Rechin mountain pass) on August 29-30.
It has also dismissed China taking recourse to its unilaterally defined LAC of 1959, which has been firmly rejected by New Delhi in the past.