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PLA attempts to occupy feature; Indian troops reinforce positions near Rezang La


New Delhi: A dominating feature known as `Black Top’ has emerged as the new flashpoint on the Sino-Indian border in eastern Ladakh after the People’s Liberation Army tried to occupy it late on Saturday night and create defensive positions.

Black Top is a strategic feature in the Chushul subsector that overlooks Indian posts along the southern bank of the Pangong Tso lake. Sources said that late on Saturday night, the Army detected movement of around 300 PLA soldiers with equipment for constructing fortifications near Black Top.

Since the feature is well within the Indian perception of the Line of Actual Control, Indian forces were mobilised from nearby posts to occupy heights in the area and stall the Chinese movements towards the southern bank of the lake. The Indian deployment stalled a possible Chinese advance in the area, which is located on the other side of lake from the contentious finger area where a border confrontation has been on since May.

Additional troops have also been posted to Rezang La and Reqin La in Chushul to prevent PLA attempts to push into the area. India has in the past months also moved a regiment of T90 tanks to the vulnerable Spanggur pass at Chushul to thwart any possible Chinese ingress.

The PLA, in an official statement, accused Indian troops of crossing LAC along the Pangong Tso lake and at Reqin La, located close to the scene of the gallant battle of Rezang La in 1962 in which a company of the 13 Kumaon battalion led by Major Shaitan Singh fought till his death. However, Indian officials said that the deployments in Chushul subsector were well within its perception of LAC and the reason troops were moved forward was to avoid a situation like the Finger Area where PLA created defences by violating border protocols.

“Our troops have been posted forward to deny access as a repeat of the Finger area crisis was feared but we remain within our perception of the border. There have been no deployments across the LAC,” senior officials said. Sources said that 300 PLA troops have taken positions on a nearby feature known as Helmet Top. They are believed to be in possession of construction material used for fortifications.

The forward deployments have created friction once again in Eastern Ladakh where there is a stalemate after the fatal clash at Galwan on June 15. As things stand, Chinese troops remain deployed across the Indian perception of the LAC at the Gogra post as well as the Finger area along Pangong Tso. Chinese troops have withdrawn from the Galwan flashpoint but trouble is still brewing at Depsang plains near Daulat Beg Oldie, where PLA troops have been blocking Indian patrols across a feature known as Bottleneck, denying access to three patrolling points along the LAC.

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