The Indian and Chinese armies have started to disengage at three locations in Eastern Ladakh where they are in a standoff situation for the last few days, according to media reports. The Chinese troops have started withdrawing 2 to 3 km behind the position they were camping at, according to these reports.
The disengagement has reportedly begun at Patroling point 14 (Galwan area), Patrolling point 15, and Patrolling point 17 A. However, the ‘Finger’ area of Pangong Lake remains a tricky issue and is yet to be resolved.
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The disengagement follows a series of high-level military talks between the two sides. The last such meeting took place on May 6 between Lt Gen Harinder Singh, commander of Leh-based 14 Corps, and a Chinese delegation headed by Maj Gen Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang military region, at Moldo on the Chinese side of the LAC.
The divisional commanders of the two armies are likely to hold furter discussions in this regard on Wednesday.
According to reports, reciprocating the Chinese disengagement, the Indian side has also brought back some of its troops and vehicles from these areas.
The meeting on June 6 lasted for around six hours in two phases. During the first half an hour, the delegation leaders had one-to-one meeting and that laid the basis for the second phase of talks.
After the first half and hour one to one meeting of delegation leaders, then the next two hours it was delegation-level talks where 12 members, including translator, from the Indian side and the same number from the other side deliberated over the issue. After two hours, a lunch break was taken and then four-hour long deliberations took place.
There were five main issues during discussion between the delegates.
They included de-escalation of soldiers from four standoff points from both the countries. The four standoff points are Finger Four of North Bank of Pangong Lake, Patrolling point 14 near Galwan Valley, patrolling point 15 and patrolling point 17-A.
These are four points where troop concentration happened from both armies across the Line of Actual Control of either side. “No one crossed the Line of Actual Control as perceived by each other,” the source added.
The three points of standoffs that is patrolling point 14 near Galwan Valley at Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley, patrolling point 15 is near patrolling point 14 and another patrolling point 17-A, which is also known as hot springs would be resolved at brigade level.
During deliberations, it was decided after 10 days, brigadier-level talks will begin for three patrolling points — PP 14, PP 15 and PP 17-A.
The important contention from Indian side was at Finger Four at the Pangong Lake. This would be taken up with the higher level of Lieutenant-General-level talks. One more round of senior military-level talks would take place, said sources adding that India wants a pre-May 8 position. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi had talks over the standoff issue on May 8.
The fifth agenda was about gradual de-escalation of military buildup that had happened after 20 kilometres and 30 kilometres from Line of Actual Control on each side. This was well taken up by Chinese delegates and it will start happening.
During deliberations, India raised that since China had started deployment of troops and big guns it should start de-escalation move to which it had agreed and started the process and accordingly India too has started withdrawing its forces.
Clashes between Indian and Chinese troops happened between May 5 and May 8 several times. Thereafter, Chinese increased the deployment of troops and guns and Indian Army too deployed and moved guns in equal numbers. “The reserve troops in Ladakh were swiftly moved to the standoff positions,” said source.
Now, both countries have decided to de-induct and de-escalate troops and guns and move backwards.
On Monday, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had said that India wants to resolve the border dispute with China at the earliest.
“The border dispute between India and China has been ongoing for a long time. We want to resolve it as soon as possible,” Singh said.
“I want to assure people that leadership of the country is in strong hands and we will not compromise on India’s pride and self-respect,” he added.