Udayavni Special

India-China standoff: Why southern bank of Pangong Tso is important for India?


Team Udayavani, Sep 1, 2020, 12:19 PM IST

Indian Army has occupied the height on the southern bank of Pangong Tso in Ladakh which will give it an upper hand in the area. On Saturday, Aug 29, a special operations battalion moved into the area and occupied the heights with Chinese troops barely a few hundred meters away.

A Brigade Commander level Flag Meeting is in progress at Chushul to resolve the issues. The movement of Chinese troops in the East Ladakh sector is seen as an effort by the Chinese side to expand the border row to the southern bank of the lake.

Pangong Tso lake is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at an elevation of 4,225 m. It is 134 km long and extends from Ladakh, India to the Tibetan Autonomous Region, China.

The brackish water lake freezes over in winter, and becomes ideal for ice skating and polo. The legendary 19th century Dogra general Zorawar Singh is said to have trained his soldiers and horses on the frozen Pangong lake before invading Tibet.

The lake is a very important aspect of the border dispute between the two countries. The issue with the Tso lake is that the disputed border goes right through the middle of the lake, with both nations disputing how much of the lake the other gets.

Around  two-thirds of the lake is controlled by China, with just about 45 km under Indian control.

According to Indian Defence News, During the 1962 war, this was where China launched its main offensive, the Indian Army fought heroically at Rezang La, the mountain pass on the southeastern approach to Chushul valley.

It is said that the southern bank of Pangong Tso is less operationally and tactically important than the northern bank. The region south of the lake is also strategically important for both countries.

As reported by The Print,  Further to the south-east of the Pangong Tso is the Spangur Gap between the mountains, which can be used by the Chinese to advance towards Leh in case of a major offensive in the sector. This makes it important for Indian troops to hold Rezang La and adjoining heights to dominate any Chinese troop movement

The southern bank gives the Indian troops an advantage in terms of monitoring the activities in the northern bank

However, army spokesman Colonel Aman Anand said in the statement, “Indian troops preempted this PLA activity on the Southern Bank of Pangong Tso Lake, undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground. The Indian Army is committed to maintaining peace and tranquility through dialogue, but is also equally determined to protect its territorial integrity”

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