Chinese troops are reportedly laying a network of optical fibre cables south of Pangong Lake in Ladakh, two Indian officials have said. According to the details, the Chinese troops were digging in for the long haul despite high-level talks aimed at resolving a standoff there. A statement by a senior government official has suggested such cables would provide forward troops with secure lines of communication to bases in the rear and have recently been spotted to the south of Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh.
A third Indian official said on Monday that there had been no significant withdrawals or reinforcements on either side since the foreign ministers of the two countries met last week, Reuters reported.
“It is as tense as earlier,” he said.
“Our biggest worry is that they have laid optical fibre cables for high-speed communications,” the first official said, referring to the lake’s southern bank, where Indian and Chinese troops are only a few hundred metres apart at some points.”They have been laying optical fibre cables on the southern bank at breakneck speed,” he said.
Indian intelligence agencies noted similar cables to the north of the Pangong Tso lake around a month ago, the second government official said.
The first government official said the authorities were alerted to such activity after satellite imagery showed unusual lines in the sand of the high-altitude deserts to the south of Pangong Tso.These lines were judged by experts – and corroborated by foreign intelligence agencies – to be communication cables laid in trenches, he said, including near the Spanggur gap, among hilltops where soldiers fired in the air recently for the first time in decades.
Officials say a build-up in border infrastructure on their side is also likely to have played a part in the months-long confrontation.A former military intelligence official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said optical fibre cables offered communications security as well as the ability to send data such as pictures and documents.”If you speak on radio, it can get caught. Communications on optical fibre cables are secure,” he said.