India Loses 26 Of 65 Patrolling Points In Eastern Ladakh

India Loses 26 Of 65 Patrolling Points In Eastern Ladakh

February 3, 2023 - 8:03 am

Research Paper Highlights The Truth Behind India Losing 26 Of 65 PPs

India has lost access to 26 of 65 patrolling points in Eastern Ladakh, according to a research paper presented at the annual Director General of Police (DGP) Conference hosted by the Intelligence Bureau (IB). This is a worrying new development given the country's standoff with China at various flashpoints along their precarious 3,500-kilometre border. At last week's annual conference of the nation's top police officers in Delhi, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, PD Nitya, the senior superintendent of police for Leh, made the discovery in a new report. S. Jaishankar, the minister of external affairs, reiterated that no territory had been given to China, and the opposition demanded that the administration provide more information regarding the LAC. A little more than a month ago, India accused China of attempting to "unilaterally change the status quo" along their Line of Actual Control, the de facto border.

What Are Patrolling Points (PPs)?

Patrolling Points (PPs) are locations that the security personnel patrol at predetermined intervals and that have been designated and marked on the LAC as such. They act as markers of the degree of "actual control" exercised on the region by India and serve as a guide for the soldiers to find the LAC. The Indian side is able to establish and assert its physical claim on the LAC by routinely patrolling up to these PPs.

How Are Patrolling Points (PPs) Identified?

Starting in 1975 when Indian forces were given specific patrolling limitations, the powerful China Study Group began to identify these Patrolling Points (PPs). It is based on the LAC, which is also depicted on the maps with the Army in border areas, and was adopted by the government in 1993. However, the Army Headquarters in New Delhi, acting on the recommendations of the Army and ITBP, determines the frequency of patrolling to PPs, not the CSG.

What Does the Report Say?

The report states that there are currently 65 PPs (Patrolling Points) from the Karakoram pass to Chumur that the ISFs are required to patrol on a regular basis (Indian Security Forces). In 26 of the 65 PPs (PP nos. 5–17, 24-32, 37, 51–52, and 62) our presence is lost. Fingers 3–8 in the Pangong north bank, PP 37 in Demchok, PP 51–52 in the Charding Nala area, and PP 62 to the south of that are some of the PPs that are not being patrolled. PPs 5–9 are in the Samar Lungpa area to the north-east of Daulat Beg Oldi and in the Depsang Plains. The study emphasised how forward areas in India became unofficial "buffer" zones as a result of the country's "play safe" policy, which prevented people and district administration from moving through these areas. 

Why No-Patrol Zones?

This is due to a number of factors. One is that India agreed to the establishment of no-patrol zones in a number of locations as part of deals to persuade the Chinese to dismantle the blockades they had put in place in 2020. Chinese deployments impeded Indian patrolling in PP 15, 16, 17, and 17A in the Kugrang river valley heading to Gogra and Hot Springs. As a result of a mutual pullout agreement, Indian patrols are no longer able to access these installations. On the north bank of the Pangong Tso, a decision has also been made to stop monitoring the area between Fingers 3 and 8. However, some of the PPs that India can no longer access are as a result of ongoing PLA blockades. The locations in Samar Lungpa, Demchok, and Charding Nala are among the other areas that are off-limits to Indian security troops.

How Can India Manage China Border Areas?

This most recent set of studies makes clear that the previous method of controlling the LAC is no longer effective. In order to avoid further territorial loss to the persistent Chinese, India may now need to transform the PPs into permanent posts. As it stands, the PLA has conducted a significant build-up in the regions of Ladakh that are opposite the LAC, particularly in the Depsang Plains and Chip Chap river in Aksai Chin. India has also fortified its fortifications and changed its rules of engagement to allow patrols to defend themselves with firearms. Since the previous confidence-building measures are no longer in effect, at least in Ladakh, this has increased the risk of skirmishes.

The Way Forward

The key question is whether the controversy sparked by Nithya's report will persuade the Modi administration to seek the parliament's support on the issue. Or will the government's answer still be one of obscurity and denial? The research report was removed from the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs website shortly after it appeared in numerous Indian publications. The disclosures in the police investigation would not have been as shocking if the administration had provided more information. We will have to let the military and government decide how much to reveal. But it is true that if the government releases data from its standpoint, it limits speculation. Even though there may be complaints that the police report is a biassed evaluation that fails to consider the viewpoint of the first line of defense, on-the-ground assessments like these shared by the local police should aid in an overall government approach, even though the information flow from bottom to top may at first feel uneasy.