New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday visited Stakna forward post near the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, where he witnessed breath taking paradropping and other military exercises by para commandos and Jawans using latest sophisticated weapons, and later addressed Jawans on the west bank of Pangong lake, nearly 40 km from where Indian and Chinese troops are facing a stand-off over disengagement issues.

While addressing troops, the Defence Minister said, ‘whatever talks that have happened so far, the matter should get resolved, but to what extent it would be resolved, I cannot guarantee. However, I want to assure you that no power on earth can either touch or capture even an inch of our land. ..If any attempt is made to hurt India’s pride, it will not be tolerated … We will give a befitting reply (Munh-Tod Jawaab)”.

During his visit, Rajnath Singh watched Indian army’s T-90 tanks and Infantry Combat Vehicles carrying out exercise. Para Special Forces of the army displayed Finnish sniper rifles and American Exfil High Cut ballistic helmets after paradropping from a C-130J Super Hercules transporter aircraft at a height of 25,000 feet close to the LAC. The sniper rifles have a kill range of 1,500 metres.

India has deployed more than 45,000 troops all along eastern Ladakh, from Chushul till Daulat Beg Oldie post. Tanks, BMPs and Infantry Combat Vehicles have been positioned near every critical points. The BMPs are fitted with anti-aircraft gun and anti-tank guided missile and can carry 10 jawans inside at a time. Our T-90 Bhishma tanks can withstand attacks from biological and chemical weapons, can fire eight shells in 60 seconds from a 125 mm gun. It can also launch missiles up to a distance of six km. Apache attack choppers also took part in the exercise. These helicopters have an operational range of 476 km, and can engage 128 targets within one minute. Army Jawans in mechanized formations took part in the exercise.

The Defence Minister also posed with a Pika machine gun that can be fired by para commandos up to a range of 3,800 to 4,000 meter. It can fire 650 to 800 rounds in a minute.

Rajnath Singh also visited Lukung post near Pangong lake at an altitude of 13,500 ft. This is the opening point of 45 km long Pangong lake, the focal point of tension. It was here that the minister was briefed by senior army officials about the operational preparedness. He was told about the deployment of Indian and Chinese troops at the main points of friction.

Indian and Chinese troops have, no doubt, disengaged in Galwan valley, where bloody clashes took place on June 15, but troops from both sides are yet to disengage in Depsang and Pangong lake. Experts say that the completing of disengagement process may take a long time. Since the Chinese army cannot be trusted, the Indian armed forces are in a state of full preparedness to meet any challenge.

The Chinese leadership must not harbour past illusions about the strength of the Indian armed forces. Since 1962 war, India has changed a lot and our armed forces have become highly professional.

China is in a tight spot in international affairs at this moment. Most of the countries of the world believe that the COVID-19 pandemic spread far and wide because of China. In East and South East Asia, China is acting like a bully to smaller nations over South China Sea issue. The demand for democracy in Hong Kong is gaining strength and China is trying hard to stem the rising voices of dissent. It goes to India’s credit that the US, Russia and other major European countries are supporting us over the border dispute with China.

There seems to be less possibility of the Chinese army taking recourse to any misadventure, but our armed forces are on full alert and the ‘josh’ is high. Our army is ready, come what may.