Kashmir Indepth

LAC standoff in Ladakh: Govt tries to keep Sgr-Leh road open during winters

Irfan Ahmad
Srinagar Dec 24 (KINS): For the first time, authorities are making all efforts to keep the 440 kilometre Srinagar-Leh road open during winters in view of standoff between India and Chinese troops in Ladakh.
The authorities would close the Srinagar-Leh road in the first week of December till April. However, this year the road is still open.
An official of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) said they are making all efforts to keep the highway open in maximum day during winters.
“We have got new equipments and machinery to clear the snow and to keep highway open. This is being done to facilitate movement of troops, equipment and other essentials. Government does not want to take any chances as Chinese troops could move further ahead in Eastern Ladakh during winters,” the official told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).
The stretch especially Zojila pass witnesses heavy snowfall with the road buried under several feet of snow. 
Deputy Commissioner Kargil Baser-ul-Haq Choudhary also said the administration was trying to keep the road open during winters. “If nature support us then we will be able to keep the road open,” he told news agency KINS.
For months there are escalations along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. In June this year, at least 20 Indian army men were killed after their clash with Chinese soldiers in Galwan valley of Ladakh.
The China has been objecting for developing infrastructure near the LAC in Ladakh and withdrawal of Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
China is particularly concerned about a bridge that India is reportedly building across the Galwan Nallah.
The bridge according to locals is about 7.5 km from the LAC. But the Chinese have objected because they are suspicious of India’s aims on account of New Delhi’s claim over Aksai Chin.
A source in the Defence Ministry said that China is suspicious that the Indian constructions in the area are meant to facilitate quick movement of soldiers if any attempt is made to recapture Aksai Chin.
India shares a 3,488-km border with China while Ladakh shares 646 kms of the LAC with the neighbouring country.
June’s face-off was the biggest confrontation between the two militaries after their 1967 clashes in Nathu La when India lost around 80 soldiers while over 300 Chinese army personnel were killed in the confrontation. (KINS)

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