Satellite imagery and multiple news reports on Thursday confirmed that, even as India and China continue to speak of disengagement, the Chinese structures that led to the violent clash in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on June 15 are back. According to The Indian Express, Chinese troops have crossed the “the border in another strategic area to the north, the Depsang plains.”
Troops from both the countries got into a brutal altercation on June 15 after the Indian side attempted to burn down a Chinese tent that had not been removed despite a mutual agreement between the two armies days earlier. The violent clash led to the deaths of at least 20 Indian soldiers, with Beijing not revealing the casualty count on the Chinese side. This was the first fatal fight on the Line of Actual Control, the disputed border between India and China, in more than 40 years.
On June 23, the Indian Army said there was a “mutual consensus to disengage” after an 11-hour Corps Commander-level meeting was held in a “cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere.”
Yet satellite imagery and news reports demonstrate that the Chinese tent has been re-erected at the site of the Galwan clash, with even more construction in place.
“Senior sources in the Army confirmed that ‘the tent which was removed on June 15 has been reported back by our ground troops at PP-14 (Patrolling Point 14).’ Reached for comment, the Army did not confirm or deny the existence of Chinese structures visible in the satellite images,” according to The Indian Express.
The Economic Times also reported on the construction, saying “sources confirmed that satellite images show significant construction activity by the Chinese side at Patrol Point-14, including new defences and a hardened shelter for troops”.
Meanwhile, several reports also pointed to a fresh incursion by Chinese troops in Depsang, another strategic area in eastern Ladakh.
“Around 30 km south-east from the important airstrip of Daulat Beg Oldie, the Chinese army has moved and deployed in large numbers up to a place called Y-junction or Bottleneck on the Depsang plains. Sources said the Chinese deployments include troops, heavy vehicles, specialist military equipment,” reported The Indian Express.
The Tribune also reported on this, saying “sources reported movement of additional PLA troops over the past one week at the Depsang plains further north of Galwan towards the Karokaram pass, raising concern as the strategic airfield of Daulat Beg Oldie is less than 25 km from the Chinese posts.”
Depsang was the site of a 2013 stand-off between the armies of both countries, with Chinese troops 18 kilometres inside territory claimed by India. The troops were in a stand-off for three weeks before diplomatic talks led to a restoration of the previous status quo.