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Status quo first, then we take up larger issues: Army chief on China border standoff

Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande emphasized the need for China to restore the status quo ante to resolve the 43-month-long border standoff in eastern Ladakh. While disengagement has occurred at various points, complete de-induction and de-escalation are pending.

Status quo first, then we take up larger issues: Army chief on China border standoff
First Published Jan 12, 2024, 8:41 AM IST

Sending a clear and stern message to China, Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande on Thursday asked them to restore the status quo ante to end a 43-month-long border standoff between forces of two Himalayan giants. The two forces have been engaged in a standoff in parts of eastern Ladakh since April-May 2020. However, disengagement from several friction points, including Pangong Tso, Gogra Height, and Hot Springs has taken place but de-induction and de-escalation of men and machines are yet to be done. 

Speaking at the annual press conference ahead of Indian Army Day on January 15, Gen Pande said: "Our first aim to achieve is status quo ante. Once that happens, then we can go and look back at larger issues. Till the time, we will continue to deploy whatever forces are required to be deployed along the LAC..." he said.

Stating that the situation along the northern border is stable yet sensitive, Gen Pande said: "We continue to talk to find a solution to address and balance issues between the two sides. Operational preparedness is very high, and deployment is both- robust, and balanced..."

'Strong anti-drone mechanism in place'

He also said that the ceasefire understanding along the LoC (Line of Control) continues to hold. 

"Even though we see infiltration attempts, which we have been able to thwart... We have a strong anti-drone mechanism in place to stop the use of drones to smuggle weapons and narcotics... The area of Rajouri, Poonch has seen increased terrorist activity. Support infrastructure for proxy tandems in the Rajouri Poonch sector from across the border continues..." Gen Pande added.

'Only 30% of weapons have been recovered in Manipur'

He said that the State of Manipur has witnessed violence since May last year. 

"...If you look at our deployment in Manipur, it is to help the civil administration. The Assam Rifles and all our units have displayed a lot of restraint. Sometimes when there is a provocation, no collateral damage, no casualties to civilians took place because of actions on our part. The challenge is weapons that are still missing as only 30% of weapons have been recovered. Our deployments in Manipur are synergized and are in coordination with the state administration,” the Army chief said.

"I want to highlight we have soldiers from both communities who sleep, eat and live together. They function without any issues at all," he added.

'Agnveer feedback is very exciting and positive...'
“The first two batches of Agniveers are now fully deployed in field units and the feedback is very exciting and positive," he said, adding, "We have received positive feedback from grounds. The final process of the Agniveer process took place through a consultative process and all points were taken into account. From here we have to look forward."

'Disruptive technologies new arena of strategic competition'

Stating that disruptive technologies have become the new arena of strategic competition, he said: "National interests remain paramount and the relevance of hard powers has been established... Disruptive technologies have become the new arena of strategic competition."

"We have restructured our artillery unit. We also have restructured units of electronic warfare and electronic intelligence. We have started the process of reducing animals in our animal transport units and they are being replaced by drones..."

"We have made a plan and optimise our strength by significant numbers and by 2027 we will achieve an optimisation of 1 lakh numbers. We have given the proposal to the government," he added.

This year Army Day parade will be taking place at Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh on January 15.

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