New rules of engagement at LAC, Indian soldiers given free hand in extreme provocation, India informs China
Signalling a major change in the rules of engagement, the Government has now allowed Indian forces to open fire “under extreme provocation” at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The existing agreements between India and China will not be binding in such situations. China has been informed about the Government’s decision.
In the aftermath of the killing of 20 Indian soldiers on June 15 in Ladakh, the local commanders have also been given “complete freedom of action” to handle situation at the tactical level.
These significant changes in the Indian policy were discussed extensively during Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s review meeting of the Ladakh situation with Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and the three Services Chiefs here on Sunday.
Giving details of the stock taking with the LAC continuing to be tense especially in Eastern Ladakh where the skirmish took place, sources said here the commanders were also given a free hand to assess the situation on the ground along the LAC and take appropriate action as required in case of any escalation from the other side.
“While we don’t want escalation but if it happens by the other side, appropriate action will be taken. Clear cut instructions to this effect were given,” sources said.
On change of rules of engagement and standard operating procedure during patrolling at the LAC, they said now the troops can use firearms under extreme provocation. Till now, though they carried weapons but did not open fire as per an agreement with China in 1996. It stipulates that “neither side shall open fire or conduct blast operations within two km of the LAC.”
Besides informing the Chinese about this change in the rules of engagement, sources said India also conveyed that it will counter forcefully any kind of misstep or violence by China.
The Indian Army patrols were now equipped with anti-riot gear including body armour, shields and fibre lathis. The Army commanders will have the full freedom to use any instrument under his command for operations at the LAC, officials said.
Meanwhile, Rajnath is also likely to take up this brutal assault issue and the situation on the LAC with his Russian counterpart during his visit to Moscow on June 24. The Indian Defence Minister will attend the Victory Parade there to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the victory in the Second World War.
The Parade is organised to honour the heroism and sacrifices made by the Russian and other friendly people. Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu had invited Raksha Mantri to the Victory Parade, which was originally scheduled on May 9, 2020 but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Separately, a Tri-Service 75-Member Indian Military Contingent has already reached Moscow to participate in the Victory Parade along with Russian contingent and other invited contingents.
The marching contingent taking part in the Victory Day Parade is led by a major rank officer of the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment.
During the review meeting, Rajnath was also apprised of the operational readiness of the Armed forces all along the LAC since the stand-offs last month.
The armed forces have gone on full alert along the LAC following the Galwan clash. The IAF has forward deployed its frontline fighters including Su-30MKIs, Mig-29UPG and its latest acquisition the AH-64E Apache heavy attack helicopter, meant to neutralise armoured formations, has been deployed in Leh. The CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopters too have been deployed in this region. China has deployed artillery, armoured vehicles and tanks close to the LAC on its side.
The Army has moved additional divisions from the plains and other forward areas to Ladakh and other high altitude areas for acclamatisation. In fact, this move came after the standoffs began on May 05, sources said.
Monday, 22 June 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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