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No Fear No Favour

Doklam issue far from over, new images shed lights on impending crisis

After a two month long military face-off between India and China called off peacefully on August 28, after New Delhi and Beijing announced that the matter is solved on a mutual commitment from the disputed tri-junction area.

According to the online news web-portal ThePrint, and the images accessed by the same, reveals a completely different story. Images accessed by ThePrint shows the situation has not normalised as a significant Chinese troops build-up continues close to the contested point on the Doklam plateau. The images further reveals that the unit has lethal and heavy equipments which were not noted in the past in the same region.

The build-up gives the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) the ability to quickly escalate matters at a time of its choosing, which was not the situation during the stand-off.

The satellite images which was accessed by ThePrint shows that the Chinese army, PLA, has a brigade-plus strength deployed in Yadong County, which is in two hours of striking distance of the Doklam flashpoint by vehicles even in September, after both sides had agreed to withdraw.

The satellite images of the same of 6th September, i.e after the Doklam stand-off was called off, shows the presence of PLA army of 2000-3000 soldiers which were deployed north of Yadong town. The deployment of the soldiers is the contrary as it there were no military deployments was shown as older satellite images of the same area do not show PLA presence here in the past.

Picture Courtsey: ThePrint

During the two month time period of Doklam stand-off, the PLA had around 300 troops in the tri-junction area of India, Bhutan and China. India also had the same number of troops then.

The satellite images accessed by ThePrint shows the area of 13 km west of Jomolhari Mountain, considered the consort of the Knachenjunga in the Himalayas. The area is located in the Yadong County of Tibet, and borders Thimpu district of Bhutan.

Picture Courtsey: ThePrint

Traditionally, China has used the area east of Yarla Shampo, which is approximately 300 km north-east of the Doklam area in question, for training purposes. The PLA is not known to have deployed troops in the Doklam area in the past for training or other purposes.

Military and fighting equipment:

The satellite images show the strength and the concentration of the military presence of the PLA soldiers in the contested area – all troops are camouflage nets varying with the colour of the ground. The troops deployed along rivulets have green camouflage as the ground is greener, while the others have desert camouflage nets.

Heavy fighting equipment was also deployed, which can possibly be tanks and armoured fighting vehicles. The equipment and the tanks are also under camouflaged nets in six groups.

Picture Courtsey: ThePrint

Vehicles carrying ammunition are partially camouflaged and are parked across the road with the revetments – retaining walls or barricades – around them. There seems to be an effort to conceal the vehicles by parking them back to back and projecting them as larger, tank transporter vehicles. This possibly is part of the deception policy of the PLA.

Track discipline:

Whenever a military force of army is deployed in tents, the troops ensure minimum movement to avoid being detected by the eyes in the skies. The movement by the troops either on foot or in vehicles creates additional tracks and exposes locations like the operations room and signal centre.

In the satellite images accessed by ThePrint reveals that the units were identified seems to be a deployment of a combined arms brigade consisting of all the elements of the PLA ground force, rather than a simple brigade with three infantry units.

Picture Courtsey: ThePrint

Rods built in this part by China also shows the part of Tibet are black topped with large berms – flat strips of land – and the road coming up to the contested area of Doklam is wide enough to sustain heavy traffic.

The satellite images that ThePrint showed a possible logistics unit in the area. It has 26-second line transport units used by the LPA clearly visible without any camouflage.

The image further shows the presence of air defence and the artillery unit in the area.

The satellite images show the presence of mechanised unit in a group of six nets. The vehicles are also partially camouflaged to avoid coming in the radars of human eyes.

There are a large number of tell-tale signs left behind by the previous deployment during the Doklam stand-off. One of them clearly indicates that there was an air defence battery with eight guns.

The sudden increase in Chinese presence of 3,000 troops with assorted mechanised vehicles in the Doklam area will make it a huge challenge for the Indian Army to face.

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