New Delhi: Army Chief General Bikram Singh on Wednesday briefed the Cabinet Committee on Security over the Chinese incursion in Ladakh. CNN-IBN has learned that General Singh told the Prime Minister and other senior cabinet ministers that it is a localised problem.
India and China held a third flag meeting at Chushul in Ladakh on Tuesday, which was inconclusive yet again. In the flag meet, China demanded that India dismantles bunkers and stops work on roads close to its perception of where the Line of Actual Control runs. The issue figured in a high level meeting chaired by Defence Minister Antony with the National Security Adviser and the three service chiefs.
Intelligence sources say Chinese troops are unlikely to withdraw despite India's insistence. They have been camped in Rakki Nullah for the past 16 days, 30 km south of Daulat Beg Oldi in Ladakh.
They say China may have initiated the intrusion to see how India would react on the ground. Until now India's response has been only diplomatic. India has neither made any move to surround the camp nor cut the flow of supplies to the camp. It has also not attempted to occupy the Chinese territory, giving the impression of weakness.
The officials say some of these steps should have been initiated by India prior to the issue becoming public knowledge. Now the matter is out of the military's hands as it is being driven by the China Study Group, most of whose members barring the MEA have very limited understanding of China.
Officials do expect some gesture by the Chinese to mollify India ahead of their premier's visit in May. But this may amount to no more than a token declaration of their willingness to resolve the issue accompanied by demands that could impact India's infrastructure build-up in Ladakh or operational aspects.
If there is a withdrawal, it will be on China's terms, at a time of China's choosing, underscoring Beijing's status as the dominant player in the relationship with India.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said there is no need to press the panic button even as the Chinese incursion in Ladakh entered day 17 on Wednesday. Speaking to CNN-IBN, Khurshid said, "There is a difference of opinion and perception, but no confrontation. We can express concern, but we need not press the panic button."
He also said that the standoff between India and China can be resolved. "How many troops, how far in is not a full answer. If you have 10 troops 19 kms inside cut off from rest of their supply lines, that's not a good situation for them. We do believe there is an issue that needs to be resolved. We are confident we'll achieve that objective," Khurshid said.
When asked whether he will reconsider his visit to Beijing, Khurshid said, "There is no reason for us to reconsider at present. I will have the opportunity to meet the leadership in China who are keen to continue the wholesome relation. So we are looking at the positives."