By Sumit Kumar Singh
New Delhi, Dec 4 (IANS) India will deploy boats with enhanced capabilities, including anti-ramming features, at Pangong Lake at eastern Ladakh, one of the border locations witnessing a dispute with China.
These indigenously-built boats will accommodate additional troops for carrying out patrolling in the lake where China has lately laid claims, leading a tense situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Pangong Lake’s total length is 134 km and is divided into eight ‘fingers’ — military parlance for mountain spurs jutting into a lake — that are contested by both sides.
As the lake gets frozen with the onset of the winter, the Army will deploy around two dozen such boats by next summer.
The Indian Army was looking for boats with strong capabilities to thwart Chinese incursions in the lake, and made a requisition for such boats for which it had consulted the Indian Navy. The Navy came up with designs and gave technical advice to the manufacturer, keeping in mind the capabilities needed at 14,000 feet.
These boats would be used for patrolling the lake while troops carry out foot patrols on the banks.
These newly-manufactured boats can accommodate 25 to 30 soldiers with ample amount of arms and ammunition. “It would have better capabilities than Chinese boats deployed in the lake,” said a source.
The boats will also have high speed capabilities so that Chinese incursions in the lake can immediately be thwarted.
The need to upgrade boats used for patrolling the Pangong Lake was felt in wake of the military tussle between Indian and Chinese troops and the continued standoff across the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh that started early May.
India claims that the Line of Actual Control is at Finger 8 and had been holding on to the area till Finger 4 but in a clear alteration of status quo, the Chinese have been camping at Finger 4 and have set up fortifications between Fingers 5 and 8.
There have been regular face-offs between the two armies between Finger 4 and Finger 8, a distance of eight kilometres, on the northern bank of the lake.
Confrontations began on the Pangong Lake, both in the waters and its bank, since last year as Chinese incursions increased and they started changing the status quo.
Now, India and China are engaged in a eight-month-long standoff at the LAC in eastern Ladakh. Despite several levels of dialogue, there has not been any breakthrough and the deadlock continues.
(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at [email protected])