Why guarding Rezang La is crucial to keep China at bay along LAC

New DelhiEdited By: Gravitas deskUpdated: Sep 09, 2020, 08:42 AM IST


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China wants control over the southern bank of Pangong Tso, one of the possible paths for an incursion attempt is through Rezang La.

India had faced a humiliating defeating at the hands of the Chinese in 1962 but despite overwhelming odds, the Indian troops were able to give a bloody nose to the Chinese at Rezang La.

Now, with the India-China standoff escalating, this territory is back in focus.

Indian soldiers had fought the Chinese to the last bullet during the 1962 war, 58 years later, both sides are back to where it all began - the Pangong Tso lake.

The flashpoint this time is the southern bank with one of the areas where the Indian soldiers have come face-to-face with the PLA being Rezang La which is a mountain pass that has been a battleground for India and China in the past.

In November 1962, China had launched a silent attack on Rezang La, an isolated Indian forward post which was targeted from multiple directions despite being cornered and outnumbered the Indian soldiers fought bravery leading them was Major Shaitan Singh the company commander who crawled from trench to trench reorganizing the defences and motivating his men, despite suffering injuries.

The Indian soldiers fought to their last rounds, however, they were eventually overpowered by the Chinese. Major Shaitan Singh succumbed to his injuries. He was awarded the Param Vir Chakra -India's highest military honour.

The Chinese soldiers used every trick in the book to take control of Rezang La because of its geographic location. The mountain pass lies on the Line of Actual Control(LAC), Chinese troops have tried to capture strategic positions. Now, they are on the back foot. India has taken control of key mountain heights. It gives Indian soldiers a clear view of potential paths of ingress allowing India to push back any Chinese advances.

China wants control over the southern bank of Pangong Tso, one of the possible paths for an incursion attempt is through Rezang La.

Last month, India had thwarted a Chinese incursion attempt in the southern bank - an area that is easier to traverse due to the flatter terrain. India has control of the southern bank and Indian soldiers can block Chinese incursions because they have access to strategic heights like Rezang La also, the Spanngur gap - a potential route to Leh for Chinese soldiers if they ever attempt a full-scale invasion.

Guarding Rezang La is critical for India as it blocks China from more military adventurism in the disputed region. India has been carefully watching the movements of the PLA. The southern bank of Pangong Tso is among the few sectors that can be used as a launchpad for an offensive. During the 1962 war, both banks witnessed a Chinese offensive with India losing territory on both sides.

More than 50 years after the war, China is back to seize more land but it is India, that has the advantage this time.