New Delhi: The Indian government is considering a proposal mooted by China to reduce tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) even as the two armies maintain status quo in Ladakh, ThePrint has learnt.
Sources in the defence and security establishment refused to give details about the proposal, saying it remains “highly confidential”. Asked if the proposal was about withdrawal of armoured elements and artillery from the LAC, the sources replied in the negative.
They said the authorities are yet to take a final call on the proposal but “discussions are on”.
“The Chinese did come out with a proposal during the last military-level talks held on 12 October. The proposal is being looked at,” said a source. “The matter is under consideration by the top hierarchy and is confidential. Similarly, we have also moved proposals for reducing tensions.”
India and China remain locked in a standoff at Ladakh, months after tensions first began with Chinese incursions along the LAC. The two armies now look set to maintain forward deployment at the border through Ladakh’s bitter winter.
There have been multiple rounds of diplomatic and military talks so far, but a solution is yet to be arrived at. The two countries are expected to hold the eighth round of military talks, but a date hasn’t been decided so far.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had said last week that India and China are engaged in talks to resolve the border standoff, adding that what is going on is “something confidential”.
Rotation of troops continues
With no end in sight yet, the Army has started drawing up a summer strategy in Ladakh, and is looking at greater permanent deployment of troops in the area.
Top government sources had said earlier this month the Indian forces will at no point carry out any unilateral reduction in deployment in forward areas, adding that any such step will be mutual and through a proper verification process that will have to be decided by both sides.
This is so because at some points where the two armies are locked in a standoff, the Indians need more time to reach the location than the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which has better road connectivity and the advantage of plains on its side, the sources said.
“So, you can’t have a situation where both sides withdraw armoured elements or tanks only to later find Chinese coming back later and we playing catch-up,” a source said.
Giving an overview of the current situation at the LAC, another source said both sides are maintaining the status quo. This means both India and China continue to hold on to their positions at all friction points, including the southern banks of the Pangong Tso.
“The only development that is happening is that both sides are continuing with the rotation of troops. India has been doing it and so are the Chinese,” the source added.
The rotation of troops is an exercise aimed at ensuring soldiers remain fighting fit and don’t fall prey to the high altitude and extreme cold.