LAC standoff forces Indian army chief to cancel Bhutan trip

New Delhi: With the stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops continuing on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Chumar area, Army chief General Dalbir Singh has called off his visit to neighbouring Bhutan to monitor the situation, top sources have confirmed. General Singh, who was to leave for Thimphu on Sunday evening for a three-day visit, will now stay on at Delhi to regularly brief top decision-makers on the matter, indicating that the situation on the LAC remains tense.

LAC standoff forces Indian army chief to cancel Bhutan trip

Dalbir Singh

Indian and Chinese troops remain entrenched in the Chumar area with over 1,000 soldiers camped out in the open in what has been the biggest face-off since the Depsang valley incident that took place last year and lasted for three weeks.

General Singh’s decision to remain in Delhi also comes at a time when Defence Minister Arun Jaitley is not well and has been hospitalised. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too is slated to leave for the US later this week.

Army sources said that there has been little change in the ground situation in Chumar where Indian troops have occupied a dominating position after Chinese troops came into a section of disputed area and set up camp. While the Indian side has been protesting the construction of road in the area that is dominated by Indian positions, China has been upset about the construction of an Indian observation position that overlooks military positions on the other side.

The Army has been briefing the political leadership on the situation on the LAC on a regular basis and has been changing its troops regularly at the stand-off position. There have been slight movements of troops on the other side too but these have been to cater for logistic reasons. The Indian Army has already dispatched a reserve battalion in the area to act as a quick reaction unit in case things escalate. However, the Army does not believe that the situation will deteriorate into violence, given the past history of such confrontations.

There is concern on how the situation will de-escalate, given that the troops have not even pulled back after the matter was raised at the highest level by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping.