New Delhi: India and China will give each other about a fortnight for further disengagement before carrying forward the ongoing formal military talks, even as New Delhi asserted that there is no change in India’s position on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), ThePrint has learnt.
Sources in the defence and security establishment said both sides would keep a watch on each other to see how much disengagement is being done as decided during the Corps Commander level talks Tuesday. This would entail daily hotline talks at the Chushul-Moldo meeting point in Ladakh.
Sources also said both sides would work out a joint verification process since disengagement at PP (patrol point) 14, 15 and 17A is to happen beyond visual range.
Sources further said the next Corps Commander level talks will be held only after the meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, scheduled next week.
Earlier in the day, the Army and External Affairs Ministry (MEA) described the process of disengagement as “intricate and complex”, which requires “constant” verification.
The MEA said the disengagement process currently underway in the Western sector is specifically aimed at addressing face-off situations and close-up deployments of troops along the LAC.
“It is based on an understanding between senior military commanders. Both sides have agreed at specific points to re-deploy towards their regular posts on their respective sides of the LAC,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
He underlined that these are mutually agreed reciprocal actions to be taken by both sides.
“And as I have already conveyed, it is an ongoing process. This mutual re-deployment should not be misrepresented. There is absolutely no change with respect to India’s position on the Line of Actual Control. We are fully committed to observing and respecting the LAC. Any unilateral attempts to change the status quo along the LAC are not acceptable,” he added.
This was an indirect reference to “certain media reports”, which said that the disengagement process has redrawn the LAC to India’s disadvantage.
“The process of disengagement along the LAC is complex and therefore, unsubstantiated and inaccurate reports need to be avoided,” Srivastava added.
‘Process is intricate’
Meanwhile, Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand in a statement said the fourth round of talks between 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen. Harinder Singh and his Chinese counterpart Maj Gen Liu Lin, chief of the South Xinjiang Military District, was consistent with the consensus reached between the Special Representatives of India and China earlier on 5 July to discuss complete disengagement.
The Senior Commanders reviewed the progress on implementation of the first phase of disengagement and discussed further steps to ensure complete disengagement, he said.
“The two sides remain committed to the objective of complete disengagement. This process is intricate and requires constant verification. They are taking it forward through regular meetings at diplomatic and military level,” Col Anand said.
Both sides to give each other time
Sources said that India and China are going to give about a fortnight’s time to each other to carry out further disengagement.
“The focus right now is on disengagement and de-escalation. The Chinese troops have gone back by about 2 km from the PP 14 in Galwan and PP 15, PP 17, PP 17A in the Hot Springs area, which includes Gogra post,” a source said.
Another source explained that both sides are giving each other time of about 10-12 days for further disengagement.
“The Chinese have moved forward from their peace time locations by about 20-25 km. They have moved back by about 2 km and need to move back further. We expect them to go back to peacetime locations. However, it is not going to be quick. We will observe for the next 12 days or so before further military talks,” the second source said.
Sources also said the 14 July talks also focused on Pangong Lake area and Depsang Plains where China has blocked Indian access to Patrol Point 10, 11, 12 and 13, which fall within Chinese Claim Line.
They said that while Chinese have thinned down from Finger 4, they continue to hold their positions.
“Some of their troops have moved back from Finger 4 to actually Finger 6 now. However, we want them to go beyond Finger 8, which is the LAC for us. We will wait and see how much they have moved back before the next round of talks. This holds true for Depsang Plains too,” the first source quoted above said.
The source also said that both sides will be in touch almost on a daily basis through the local hotline and both will work out a verification mechanism once the other side confirms that more disengagement has taken place.