Indian troops are using ‘new rules of engagement’ along LAC to counter Chinese aggression

Specialised elements of Indian Army carried out 'tactical signalling' to dissuade China's People's Liberation Army from coming closer

New Delhi: New rules of engagement are in play along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and could have helped prevent tensions from spiralling over the weekend when Indian troops won the “race for the passes” on the southern bank of Pangong Tso.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said when the movement of Chinese soldiers was witnessed at around Saturday midnight along with their armoured personnel carriers, specialised elements of the Indian Army carried out “tactical signalling” to dissuade the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from coming closer.

The signalling worked and the Chinese Army did not move forward even though they had brought in additional troops after warnings were first issued, the sources said.

“The Chinese realised that India meant serious business and would defend its territory strongly,” a source said.

India has changed the rules of engagement at the LAC after the deadly clash on 15 June in Galwan, which led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers and undeclared casualties on the Chinese side too.

This came after China used crude weapons like clubs and sticks with nails on them to attack the Indian soldiers who had gone to talk and check on China’s promise to dismantle an observation post set up inside the Indian side near Patrol Point 14.

The New Rules

According to the new rules, commanders on the ground will have the full freedom to put in use any instrument under their command for tactical operations as deemed fit.

Previously, not all soldiers on the ground carried loaded firearms while on patrol, sources had said earlier. The practice of not opening fire draws its inspiration from the 1996 agreement between India and China, which says “neither side shall open fire or conduct blast operations within 2 km of the Line of Actual Control”.

Asked about specific developments that took place over the weekend, an Army source said, “We dissuaded them from coming closer to our precautionary deployment positions. The details of tactical operations cannot be shared with the media”.

Specialised elements of the Army have dominated the southern bank of the Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh and are now in control of Reqin Pass and Spanggur Gap in the hills under the Chushul sector.

In a change of tactics, the Army has redeployed troops over the last few days along the entire LAC, especially in Eastern Ladakh.

Sources have underlined that these redeployment is defensive in nature and to pre-empt more aggressive behaviour by the Chinese and to prevent land grabbing attempts.