India Today

Month after Doklam withdrawal, more Chinese troops on plateau than before

The PLA has fortified its presence there and is settling down for the long haul. A close up of the game of high altitude Himalayan chess.

Sometime in early August, the dry, desolate plateau around the Gurudongmar lake in north Sikkim resounded with the roar of tank engines. A squadron of 14 Indian army T 72 tanks kicked up dust as it raced towards the Line of Actual Control with China. The explosive reactive armour panels slapped on their turrets can defeat enemy anti tank shells and thermal imagers ensure they can fight through the night.

The tank move occurred even as the Doklam standoff where the Indian army blocked the People's Liberation Army, or PLA, from building a road through disputed territory in Bhutan entered its third month. The army had its eyes on the Tibetan plateau. Military spy satellites had indicated that two regiments of PLA Type 96 battle tanks, artillery and troops continued to remain on the Tibetan plateau near the town of Khambha Dzong, nearly 30 km north of the border. Their manoeuvres, unusually, had been on for three months now, since May. Worryingly, the Indian army noted, they were just 10 km away from north Sikkim, a short sprint away from the only part of the rugged eastern sector where its own forces sit on the Tibetan plateau. The flat and wide terrain of the plateau is ideal for armoured warfare, one reason why the army had pre positioned two regiments of T 72 tanks and BMP armoured personnel carriers there since 2009.

India Today has learned that the army's northward advance, which happened with

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