When Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the Galwan valley on June 15, the Army quickly did estimation that such incidents could reoccur, and altered the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and rules of engagement for its soldiers along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
The Indian troops were allowed to fire in self-defence and since then they have been carrying automatic weapons. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) too has armed its soldiers. The number of soldiers facing on either side along the LAC is small but the backup is in thousands, apart from tanks and artillery guns.
This was not so at Galwan. The team led by Col Santosh Babu, which had gone to probe a Chinese tent, was unarmed, while the PLA soldiers had come armed with improvised clubs and machetes, leading to a bloodbath. Since Galwan, matters have flared up twice — once on August 30-31 and again on September 7 at the south of Pangong Tso.
The Army has denied opening fire at PLA soldiers on September 7 and accused the other side of firing shots. The PLA claims the Indian Army did it.
While both sides deny having opened fire, it is certain that firing did occur — first such incident in Ladakh since 1962. On September 7, the PLA tried to capture Mukhpari but it was repulsed. On August 30, another operation was launched from Indian side to capture all heights from Thakung to south of Rinchen La, foiling Chinese bid to take these over.
Post Galwan, rules of engagement altered
Army altered the standard operating procedures and rules of engagement for soldiers along the LAC in Ladakh after June 15
Brigadier-level talks were held in Chushul on Wednesday. It was agreed that another Lt General-level meeting be planned
Sources say two sides may look into implementing on ground what Defence Ministers had discussed in Moscow on Sept 4
With Foreign Ministers slated to hold talks in Moscow on Sept 10, some forward movement is expected