The Indian Army has sent nearly 100 tanks to eastern Ladakh in an attempt to counter threat from neighbouring China.
Colonel Vijay Dalal, currently commanding the Army’s Tank Unit, has said that the move is a part of precautionary measures taken by the Armed Forces to strengthen India’s security. Talking to the media in New Delhi on Tuesday, the senior Army official said that tanks were deployed in border regions mainly to survey the vast open valleys surrounded by mountains in eastern Ladakh.
Dahal recalled that India had stationed tanks in Ladakh in the 1960’s. However, they were withdrawn after India’s humiliating defeat to China in 1962. Now, the tanks are back in Ladakh for strategic and security purposes. He further hinted that the Army would send more tanks to the border region. “The vast flat valleys along the mountain ranges allow for armoured movement; besides, there has been an increase in the force levels across the border as well,” stressed Dahal.
At the same time, the senior Army officer admitted that it was not easy to maintain tanks in these mountainous regions. “The air is rarified and temperatures go down to minus 45 degree Celsius, these affect the performance of the tanks,” he stressed. According to Dalal, the Army uses special lubricants and fuel to keep the tanks running. The Army also revs up engines of these tanks twice every night in order to keep the systems in order. “It is indeed a very difficult task, but we have worked out a process to overcome these challenges,” he told the press.
Meanwhile, Dahal made clear that India has no plan to trigger a war with its northern neighbour and the main purpose of the move is to protect the Indian borders from “foreign aggression”. He further said that India would not tolerate repeated incursions by neighbouring countries at different points of the border, stressing that New Delhi is committed to assert its authority and rights over parts that China tries to claim as its own.
In a separate development, China announced that access to parts of South China Sea would be blocked for next few days for a naval drill that began on Tuesday. Beijing made the announcement days after an international tribunal ruled that China had no historic rights to islands in South China Sea. However, the Asian powerhouse dismissed the ruling, saying that the court had no jurisdiction to rule on the region.