New Delhi: The Indian Army has changed rules of engagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, empowering field commanders to sanction use of firearms under ”extraordinary” circumstances.
The changes to the decades-old rules came less than a week after a violent face-off in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
Under previous rules of engagement – agreements signed in 1996 and 2005 – neither side opens fire on the other. The two countries had also agreed not to use blasting explosives or firearms within two kilometres of either side of the LAC.
The move happened following the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the situation in eastern Ladakh at a meeting with the top military brass on Sunday. The Minister reviewed the entire security situation in eastern Ladakh and all other sensitive areas along the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, the sources said.
Singh told the top military officers to maintain a strict vigil on Chinese activities around the land border, the airspace and in strategic sea lanes.
The Indian Army is likely to convey to the Chinese military about the decision soon.
Reacting to media reports, Hu Xijin, the Editor-in-chief of Chinese and English editions of the Global Times, known as the Chinese government’s mouthpiece, expressed his displeasure and said that if the reports were true than it would be a serious violating of agreement and Indian would pay a heavy price for any such action.
On Monday he tweeted: “Nationalists of India need to cool down. China’s GDP is 5 times that of India, military spending is 3 times. Don’t use firearms at border. The gap of ‘kung fu’ between the two troops is much smaller than the gap of military capability between them. Please cherish peace.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier said the Army has been given full freedom to deal with the on-ground situation.
The Corps Commanders of the Indian and Chinese armies to hold another round of talks at the Chushul-Moldo border personnel meeting point in eastern Ladakh to de-escalate the ongoing tension.