New Delhi: China has completely vacated the finger areas of the Pangong Tso while both Indian and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops have vacated the Kailash range on the southern banks of the lake, completing the disengagement process after nine months of standoff.
The next round of corps commander talks between both sides is scheduled to be held on Saturday morning at the Moldo Meeting Point on the Chinese side in Eastern Ladakh.
This will be the 10th Corps Commander talks, and the Indian side, which will comprise Naveen Srivastava, Joint Secretary (East Asia) from the Ministry of External Affairs, besides officials from the defence and security establishment, will be led by 14 Corps Commander Lt. Gen. P.G.K. Menon.
The Chinese delegation would be led by South Xinjiang military district chief Major General Liu Lin.
Sources in the defence and security establishment said both military commanders will review the disengagement process and deliberate on the remaining friction points.
Depsang Plains issue to take time
While the disengagement process at Gogra and Hot Springs areas is likely to be tackled first, sources indicated that the strategic issue of Depsang Plains will take time.
“A disengagement process was earlier initiated in both Gogra and Hot Springs areas but the Chinese have not implemented it in full. So that should be agreed upon in the meeting tomorrow,” a source said. “The Depsang Plains is something that could take time as it precedes the current round of tensions, which began in April last year.”
ThePrint had in August last year reported that tensions at Depsang Plains can be traced to China’s 18-km incursion into the area, which is close to the strategic Daulat Beg Oldi base, in 2013, and the 2017 Doklam standoff.
The disengagement process
In an interview to ThePrint Wednesday, Northern Army Commander Lt. Gen. Y.K. Joshi had said the India-China disengagement at the Pangong Tso in Ladakh is under conditions favourable to India, which is a success.
As part of the pullback, both sides have de-inducted over 200 tanks and armoured personnel vehicles besides thousands of soldiers from both banks of the Pangong Tso.
Significantly, the Chinese have also dismantled all structures they built — dugouts, sangars (stone fortifications), helipads, pitched tents, observation posts and field hospitals among others — from the areas they have vacated within India’s perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The area between Finger 3 and 8 has become a no-patrolling zone, which means neither India nor China will do any activity in this area.
Both sides have also gone back to their April 2020 positions — the Indian Army was occupying the Dhan Singh Thapa post (between Finger 2 and 3) and the PLA was east of Finger 8.
Explaining the disengagement process, Lt. Gen. Joshi had said it consists of four steps, each of which is to be followed up by monitoring and verification.
Step 1 of the disengagement process involved armoured and mechanised units moving back beyond the designated lines. Step 2 and 3 included moving the infantries from the northern and southern banks of Pangong Tso, and Step 4 was disengagement from the Kailash range.