New Delhi: The border stand-off between India and China could last until winter sets in as full disengagement will take time, an assessment by the Indian defence and security establishment suggests. The two countries are currently holding military- and diplomatic level-talks to find a solution to the tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
According to sources, India’s first aim is to ensure de-escalation to an extent, and then the disengagement process will begin.
De-escalation ensures a reduction in terms of military build up. Disengagement is the process under which the status quo ante is maintained.
China has carried out minute de-escalation in the Galwan Valley and Hot Spring Area — pulling back about a dozen vehicles by 1.5 km from the LAC in depth areas. However, it is continuing to maintain the build up inside the Indian side of the LAC.
There is no visible de-escalation by the Chinese in the finger areas of Pangong Lake, which continues to be a problematic area, said the sources.
They described the Chinese move as steps towards de-escalation but not disengagement as transgressions of the LAC continue.
On Thursday, Army Chief General M.M. Naravane returned to the national capital following a three-day visit to Ladakh. He will brief Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on the situation Friday, said the sources.
‘Long drawn process’
Asked about disengagement, a source told ThePrint, “This is a long drawn process. There will be a number of meetings that will be held at various levels over a period of time.
“Moving back of a few vehicles and men from forward areas within the Chinese side is a positive signal, but let us not get hopes high of a disengagement process happening quickly,” said the source.
A second source said full disengagement wouldn’t happen in weeks. The process could actually last until winter sets in.
While it is hoped that the disengagement will happen quicker and the status quo as of April would be maintained, India is not ruling out the possibility of a long drawn process, said the source.
The second source also said that India has enough deployment in forward and depth areas, along with supplies to back the process of disengagement and for any eventuality.
“We are not talking about one area or two. There are a number of friction points that need to be talked and solved. Chinese have some concerns, we have ours. This will take time,” said a third source.
During his Ladakh visit, the Army chief visited forward areas and interacted with the troops. He was given a detailed briefing on the situation at the Corps Headquarters in Leh, which was attended by local ground commanders and the Northern Army Commander, Lt Gen Y.K. Joshi, and the Corps Commander, Lt Gen Harinder Singh.
ThePrint reported Thursday that India and China have discussed the possibility of not deploying additional troops and equipment in the area where the stand-off in eastern Ladakh is ongoing, besides stopping new tents and bunker construction activity in friction areas.
This was to ensure that there is no escalation. During the Corps Commander-level meetings, the existing modalities were re-emphasised to ensure that patrolling parties from both sides don’t indulge in violence when they come across each other, ThePrint had reported.
On Thursday, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that since early May, the Chinese side has been amassing a large contingent of troops and armaments along the LAC.
“Obviously, the Indian side had to undertake counter deployments and the resulting tension has thereafter expressed itself,” he added.