Status-quo was maintained. It was a victory for both India and China that the Doklam stand-off didn’t escalate into a military conflict. But India can definitely be considered to be the happier of the two sides as it got what it wanted – China halting the construction of the road in Doklam.
There are details about such stand-off’s that are only revealed once tensions are over. Even this stand-off has some fascinating little facts that people are unaware of.
According to locals, Indian soldiers posted in the area had to stand continuously for 10 hours staring down their Chinese counterparts. This while the temperature remained in the single digits and the rains were particularly cruel.
The defence ministries of both the countries claimed that the soldiers posted by both were around 300 to 350, but this was the number of soldiers initially posted. Locals say that eventually the actual number was much higher. It is said that 8 divisions – each having 8,800 soldiers – were posted at Doka La, Nathu La and Jelep La passes. Out of these 4 were posted at Doka La alone translating to a mammoth 35,200 Indian soldiers in the area. Bunkers with artillery guns were also placed along strategic points. Clearly, India was at an advantage in the area which is why China never dared to escalate. The fact that India was able to muster such a large number of troops in a very short time goes to highlight the fact that Indian supply lines were short and well managed. This is just one example as to why the India of 2017 is different from the India of 1962.
India wasn’t shying away from psychological warfare either. Initially Sikh and Jat were posted to intimidate the shorter Chinese soldiers with their sturdy build. But they were later replaced by the ruthless and fierce Gorkhas to match Chinese aggression. However, troops were continuously being rotated.
Despite all the tensions, soldiers from both sides shared lighter moments as well.
“The Chinese smoke a lot of cigarettes. Sometimes, they offered us cigarettes in exchange for beedis. When our armies were engaged in stone-pelting and fist-fighting in Pangong Lake in Ladakh, we exchanged sweets and pleasantries on Independence Day,” said an Indian Army soldier.
One commodity that was strictly not allowed were Android phones. Soldiers, Army porters and even locals who worked as BRO road-builders weren’t allowed to use their Android phones with cameras. They had to switch them off and instead use feature phones without cameras.
This was done to prevent the leakage of pictures of sensitive locations and also because such phones reveal the locations and movement of people and troops which may be tracked from across the border.