Amid India-China border standoff, Army Commanders Conference begins

The sessions by the Northern and Eastern Commands would be of particular interest as they cover the border with China.

The continuing tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) are likely to top the agenda as the biannual Army Commanders Conference (ACC) began on Wednesday, with discussions led by the Army chief and the seven commanders, with a specific session devoted to each command over three days.

The sessions by the Northern and Eastern Commands would be of particular interest as they cover the border with China. The ACC was originally scheduled for April, but was postponed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is now scheduled to be held in two phases.

The first phase will be held till May 29 and the second in the last week of June, the Army said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reviewed the situation with the National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defence Staff and the service chiefs. 

Several military officers say the issue has to be resolved at the diplomatic and political level as the two Armies are entrenched on the ground and the talks between the local commanders haven’t made any headway.

“The Army has matched Chinese ingress on the ground and we are prepared to sit there longer, if needed. It is now for diplomacy and political leadership to reach an understanding to sort out the issue,” one officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. 

Sources say deliberations are going on daily between the local commanders at different levels up to the rank of Major-General, but there has been no breakthrough. Given this, several officers say it is for diplomacy to work. The extent of the standoff across eastern Ladakh is unlike in the past, so it has to be taken up at the highest level, according to another officer.

Separately, in the first comments by a senior Minister, Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways and former Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh said China was trying to change the LAC to suit its claims.

Gen. Singh said there was no need to be worried about the situation, because “at present China is in the dock with the whole world, and it is trying to deflect attention from these problems”. “So these tensions it is creating at the LAC are a part of that effort by China. The Army is handling the situation on the ground and the government is in discussions about it and PM [Narendra] Modi will guide us in the right direction,” he said.

He added that the current situation would not affect road construction on the border, India’s troop deployment or anything else. “Everything has to be dealt with in a very normal and graduated manner.”

With inputs from The Hindu