NEW DELHI  - Indian Army is keeping its 15 battalions as well as “reserve units” in eastern Ladakh on “high alert” to counter the People’s Liberation Army in the ongoing shadow-boxing taking place in the high-altitude region to strengthen claims to disputed areas.

Diplomatic channels are now working overtime to de-escalate the border imbroglio at both Chumar and Demchok, after three flag meetings between local military commanders failed to make any headway, but India is not averse to playing “cartographic hardball” with China if required, Times of India reported on Monday quoting defence sources.

“The situation is fluid but not tense. Chumar has always been held by us. We will not allow the PLA to construct a road or anything else on what we consider our territory. If they withdraw, we will also simultaneously pull back some of our troops,” said a source.

But no change in the ground situation in either the troop face off at Chumar or the so-called “civilian confrontation” at Demchok was reported till Sunday evening. Around 1,000 PLA troops were still occupying six to seven tactical positions in the Chumar sector, where heights vary from 12,000 to 15,000 feet, the source said.

“Some of them often re-position themselves for better logistics.

A few return to their administrative bases in the rear for the night, and then come back in the morning. It’s a well-planned operation by PLA, which has never set up camps in the area before,“ said the source.

Over 1,000 Indian troops, too, are maintaining their forward deployment in the Chumar sector, where the “cat-and-mouse game” has now been underway since September 10 after Indian soldiers stopped PLA troops from building a road right up to Chepzi on the unresolved Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The close-quarter jostling for better tactical positions had even led to a young PLA officer being detained by the Indian troops after he had strayed into one of their positions last week. The Chinese lieutenant was later handed over to the PLA.

Though the standoff is currently limited to the southern part of eastern Ladakh, the Army-ITBP combine has stepped up patrols all along the LAC stretching from Daulat Beg Oldi in the north down to Chumar near the Himachal border. Both sides have also deployed helicopters and drones for sustaining their soldiers as well as surveillance to detect build-ups.

The Army has enough personnel in the region to take care of such contingencies. There are four battalions each under the 70 Brigade at Kiari and the 114 Brigade at Tangtse, as also five units of the Ladakh Scouts. The 14 Corps at Leh, which looks after the Kargil sector as well as eastern Ladakh, also has the 81 Brigade as “a reserve formation”, which can swiftly be deployed towards Kargil or eastern Ladakh when required.