New Delhi: India and China have agreed on “step-wise mutual disengagement” from all areas of friction in Eastern Ladakh, including the main point of concern at Pangong Lake, ThePrint has learnt.
The decision was taken following Monday’s nearly-11-hour talks between 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen. Harinder Singh and his Chinese counterpart Major General Lin Liu, commander of the South Xinjiang Military District.
According to sources in the Army, the Corps Commander-level talks between India and China at Chushul-Moldo were held “in a cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere”.
“There was a mutual consensus to disengage. Modalities for disengagement from all friction areas in Eastern Ladakh were discussed and will be taken forward by both the sides,” one of the sources said.
Speaking to ThePrint, another set of sources said the disengagement will be step-wise and take place over a period of time.
“There would be gradual de-escalation that would take place. The forces will move back a particular distance in all areas of friction. This would be different for each location,” a source told ThePrint.
This, the source said, means that disengagement numbers will vary with place and time.
“At an X date, both sides will have to reduce the number of personnel by an X amount and go back by an X distance. This cycle would be done again according to the schedule agreed,” the source added.
Army sources said that more meetings will be held at levels below that of the corps commander to ensure that disengagement takes place smoothly and according to schedule. The sources remained tight-lipped about the exact withdrawal schedule, saying it was a matter of operational secrecy.
‘No repeat of Galwan’
According to sources, Lt Gen. Singh raised the issue of the Galwan clash last Monday that led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers and injuries to several others. Sources said steps will be taken by both sides to ensure such an incident is not repeated.
The meeting between the two Corps Commanders started at 11.30 am and ended only around 10.30 pm.
Sources said the two commanders were assisted by a number of officials who thrashed out details for specific points.
The meeting was held at the Chushul-Moldo point on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). It was the second one at this level since tensions began early May. There has been massive mobilisation of troops and firepower on both sides since.
Sources said the disengagement plan included the Pangong Area, where the Chinese have come in by about eight km until Finger 4, which is in Indian territory. The LAC lies at Finger 8.