New Chinese structures, more troops seen near LAC in satellite images

New satellite images show the Chinese People’s Republic Army beefing up its military activity at Patrol Point 14 in Galwan Valley, even though during recent talks it had agreed to disengage from friction points  

Sources said a buffer zone has been created between the troops of both countries

Contrary to its agreement to disengage from friction points in Galwan Valley of eastern Ladakh, satellite images show China has beefed instead up military activity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

High resolution images sourced by US firm Maxar Technologies on June 22, reportedly showed an increased number of troops, vehicles, earth-moving machines and observation points set up near Patrol Point 14, where Indian and Chinese soldiers had clashed on June 15, leading to the death of 20 Indian soldiers.

While the area near the Galwan River has just one camp before the skirmish, it has been populated with a large number of tents, military vehicles and heavy trucks.

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According to a report in the Hindustan Times, one of the images show a new and bigger observation post near Patrol Point 14. The new images also show newly-constructed accommodation along the rock-face leading up to the LAC.

There are signs of road construction too, said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda who studied the satellite imagery for HT.

The new images also show culverts constructed over the Galwan River, close to the LAC. It is the same spot where the Chinese had used bulldozers on June 16 to stop the flow of the river. The new images show the river flowing under the newly-constructed culvert.

“There are clear signs of an incursion around Patrol Point 14. These appear to be defensive formations by the Chinese on our side of the Line of Actual Control,” Major General Ramesh Padhi (retd.), one of India’s foremost cartographers who retired as Additional Surveyor General of India told NDTV. “The images show a clear movement of heavy vehicles which indicates that they have an intention to stay deployed in the area,” he added.

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While the government or the army is yet to comment on the matter, the build-up is concerning, especially after India and China in Lt-General talks at Moldo on Monday, decided to withdraw their troops from disputed areas of the valley.

An army officer told HT that the Indian Army is on guard along the LAC and ready to tackle any “provocation” or “adventurism” by the PLA.

Experts however said that the process of disengagement will take time and may not be effected within a couple of days of the talks.