New Delhi, Sep 4 (PTI) Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Director General S S Deswal has decorated 291 troops for displaying bravery during the recent standoff with the Chinese PLA in Ladakh, officials said on Friday.
Deswal, who toured the front from August 23-28, visited multiple border posts of the force, praised his men for 'displaying courage under adverse conditions', boosted their morale and had first-hand assessment of the current situation, they said, adding that DG asked the troops to be prepared.
He also interacted with senior Army commanders deployed in the area during the border tour in which he was accompanied by senior ITBP commanders.
Indian and Chinese troops are engaged in a bitter standoff at multiple places in eastern Ladakh since May this year.
Tensions flared up in the region after China unsuccessfully attempted to occupy Indian territory in the southern bank of Pangong lake five days back when the two sides were engaged in diplomatic and military talks to resolve the festering border row.
'The ITBP chief recently toured the Ladakh front. He decorated 291 troops, including three Deputy Inspectors General, with DG commendation rolls and discs for their gallant action during the face offs and skirmishes in the border areas that took place in May and June in eastern Ladakh.
'He also visited multiple border posts and spent nights at some of them,' ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said.
In its first official account of the standoff between the two militaries, the ITBP on August 14 had said its troops 'not only effectively used shield to protect themselves but also responded fiercely to advancing PLA (Chinese People's Liberation Army) troops and brought the situation under control'.
It said the troops 'fought the whole night' in the area and received minimum casualties while gave a befitting reply to the stone-pelters of the PLA.
Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in a violent face-off with the Chinese troops in the eastern Ladakh area on the intervening night of June 15-16.
While China has accepted that it also suffered causalities during these clashes, it has not given out exact numbers.
A senior official said the DG visited ITBP posts located over 17,500 feet during the visit.
'The DG appreciated the jawans for their gallant act displayed on the border during various sainik sammelans (troops' meet) he held during the tour.
'He praised the troops for exhibiting bravery despite difficult and harsh terrain, weather and other conditions and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Indian army,' the officer said.
The force had said in August that these troops (who have been decorated) had 'displayed the highest order of professional skills and fought shoulder-to-shoulder and also brought the injured Indian Army troops to the rear'.
'At places, they (ITBP) gave a determined standoff for about 17-20 hours throughout.
'Due to the high-altitude training and manoeuvre experience of the force in the Himalayas, the ITBP troops kept PLA troops at bay and due to the all out and befitting response of ITBP jawans at almost all fronts, many areas were safeguarded in the hyper sensitive areas,' it had said.
The force has also sent a recommendation to the Union home ministry for awarding gallantry medals to 21 troops posted in this area.
The nearly 90,000-strong ITBP is primarily tasked with guarding the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China that runs from the Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh. PTI NES IJT