Importance of Chushul sector: Indian Army's consolidation will give New Delhi access to east Ladakh and region's crucial airstrip

The Chushul sector in Ladakh is also the site where the 114 Brigade and the 13 Kumaon regiment headed by Major Shaitan Singh had fought a valiant battle against the PLA in 1962

FP Staff September 16, 2020 18:13:27 IST
Importance of Chushul sector: Indian Army's consolidation will give New Delhi access to east Ladakh and region's crucial airstrip

Representational Image. Getty Images

The Indian Army, engaged in a prolonged standoff with Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, is said to have taken control of elevated positions near Rezang La and Reqin La in the Chushul sector, according to reports.

This development, coupled with the two countries accusing each other of having fired shots along the LAC, means that tensions in the region continue to simmer. The firing along the LAC was the first such incident in 45 years, despite an agreement barring the use of guns and explosives.

Nevertheless, with Indian troops occupying dominating heights near Rezang La, New Delhi hopes to dominate the Chushul sector and force China to complete the disengagement process, The Indian Express reported.

The Chushul sector in Ladakh is of enormous strategic significance and was also the site where the 114 Brigade and the 13 Kumaon regiment headed by Major Shaitan Singh had fought a valiant battle against the PLA in 1962.

What makes Chushul sector so important?

Chushul lies near the southern bank of the Pangong lake, which provides access to Eastern Ladakh. The Print quotes a senior army officer as saying that the terrain on the southern bank is flatter than the northern bank, which makes it amenable to limited mechanised warfare.

Further, the Spanggur Gap lies to the southeast of the Pangong lake, which can be used by the Chinese to advance towards Leh in case of a military confrontation in the sector.

The Indian Express quoted Major General (Retd) GG Dwiwedi, author of a book on the 1962 war, as saying that India has got a military and strategic advantage by securing the ridgeline overlooking the Spanggur Gap. “Our domination of the ridgeline in the Chushul sub-sector gives us a bargaining chip in our negotiations for the disengagement process,” he said.

He further said that it has neutralised the advantage that China had gained from securing the area between Finger 4 and Finger 8 on the northern bank of the Pangong Tso.

Chushul also has an airstrip, which played an important role during the 1962 war.

However, the Chushul Valley is located at a height of over 13,000, which makes transport of supplies to forces difficult. Villagers have been ferrying water and essential commodities to the Indian Army personnel.

Konchok Stanzin, a councillor with the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council at Leh, called these volunteers soldiers without uniform.

During 1962 war

In the 1962 war, the Chinese army had attempted to attack the Chushul airfield, which would have given them direct access to Leh. However, Indian troops, defended their position through light machine guns and mortars under extremely adverse circumstances, as noted in an article in Scroll.

Out of the 124 members of the Kumaon Regiment company which took part in the battle, only 14 survived. Major Shaitan Singh, who headed the regiment, died in the battle and was later awarded the Param Vir Chakra.

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