The Indian Army on Wednesday dismissed reports that China had used ‘microwave weapons’ in eastern Ladakh, where Indian and Chinese soldiers are locked in a border standoff for the last six months.
“Media articles on employment of microwave weapons in Eastern Ladakh are baseless. The news is FAKE,” the Indian Army said in a tweet.
A report published in the UK daily The Times had claimed that Chinese forces had turned two strategic hilltops occupied by Indian soldiers “into a microwave oven”, forcing them to retreat and allowing the positions to be retaken without an exchange of conventional fire.
Media articles on employment of microwave weapons in Eastern Ladakh are baseless. The news is FAKE. pic.twitter.com/Lf5AGuiCW0
— ADG PI – INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) November 17, 2020
The report was based on claims made by Jin Canrong, a professor of international relations at Beijing-based Renmin University. He claimed that the weapons were said to have been deployed in late August. It was during this time that Indian troops surprised the Chinese by occupying dominating heights on the south bank of Pangong Tso, and in the larger Chushul sub-sector.
“Within 15 minutes of the weapons being deployed, those occupying the hilltops all began to vomit. They couldn’t stand up, so they fled. This was how we retook the ground,” the professor allegedly said during a lecture.
India’s insistence on status quo ante — of troops returning to their April locations — and China’s reluctance to disengage, especially on the Pangong north bank, has had the two sides deploying thousands of troops, tanks, artillery and air assets in the region. According to India, the LAC passes through Finger 8 on the north bank of Pangong Tso. In May, Chinese troops came 8 km west, up to Finger 4.
After an initial round of disengagement in early July, the Chinese stepped back from the base of Finger 4 to Finger 5, and Indian troops moved to Finger 3. But the Chinese refused to vacate the ridge of Finger 4, and have been there ever since.
After the recent Corps Commander-level talks in Chushul on November 6, China has proposed moving its troops back to Finger 8, and return of troops by the two sides to their original locations on the south bank of the lake. The proposal also includes moving back tanks and artillery to the depth areas on either side to reduce chances of any incident in a region.
What are microwave weapons?
Microwave weapons are electromagnetic weapons and are called so because they have a similar effect like an oven. The weapon works by heating the water molecules under the skin, in the same way as the kitchen appliance, to painful temperatures, forcing people out of the area. The weapon, also used for crowd control, can be used to target up to 0.6 miles away.
According to The Daily Mail, China had first put on display its microwave weapon, called Poly WB-1, at an air show in 2014. Besides China, the United States has also developed microwave-style weapons, called the Active Denial System.
It was apparently deployed to Afghanistan but was withdrawn without ever being used against human targets. The Pentagon has touted it as “the first non-lethal, directed-energy, counter-personnel system with an extended range greater than currently fielded non-lethal weapons”.