GUWAHATI: Taking a leaf out of the 70 days Doklam standoff, the Indian Army had immediately ordered troops movement to the McMohan line in Upper Siang district in Arunachal Pradesh after Chinese road building workers and machineries were spotted by a porter on December 28, but the soldiers, had to walk for 19 hours to reach the point of intrusion.
As many as 120 Army personnel were deployed on the border with ration that could last them for 30 days. With no roads to the border and no animal transport at disposal, Indian Army pressed into service a company of 300 porters that was raised long back, to carry the ration for the soldiers.
“The initial reading was that the Chinese might be planning to open up another area of dispute after Doklam. We were certain that it would be a long haul, after the Doklam standoff lesson and we moved our troops immediately on December 28,” a defence source said.
On the other hand personnel of Chinese PLA, who had come to the point for flag meeting on January 6, drove right till the border. The issue was resolved instantly and the Chinese men returned along with machineries that were damaged by the locals.
The Chinese civilian workers who had come for the road building had fled leaving the machineries after they were spotted by the locals. “But, what if they had come back with the Chinese PLA in large numbers. We had to take immediate preventive measures and our first task was to stock our resources, but there were challenges and difficulties” the source said.
To cope with the initial hours before the porters arrived, the Army heli-dropped 100 packets of ready-to-eat meal and 30,000 packets of chocolates as the source of energy for survival at the cold and rugged heights of the LAC.
“Initially there was no source of water and so air dropped Jeri cans of water for the men. The porters have a tough job. Each of them can carry about 10 to 15 kg of ration and have to take rest before coming downhill for the next trip up. We sent up ration for 120 men that would last them up to 30 days. Each soldier roughly requires 1.5 kg of ration, which includes water and kerosene,” the source said.
The source added that the Chinese on their side have an advantage of the terrain and topography. “The soil on their side is hardened and permafrost. They can easily build roads unlike on our side where the soil is much younger and prone to landslides, which destroy whatever road has been built,” the source added.
The source said that reports say that the point of intrusion as on Friday has three feet of snow. “We have moved our men downhill to a nearby place,” he added. The border on this side is only periodically patrolled.