With the standoff with China about to complete 17 months, Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane reached eastern Ladakh on Friday for a two-day visit to review operational preparedness in the region.
Upon his arrival, the Army chief visited the Rezang La War Memorial, which is close to Rezang La and Rechin La, two of the points from where Indian and Chinese forces had disengaged in February.
The two forces, with their troops and tanks, had been stationed just a few hundred meters apart in this area till February. Since then, the two sides have disengaged from Gogra Post as well, but Hot Springs continues to be a friction area.
According to an Army statement, General Naravane will review operational preparedness in the region. Further, the statement said he will “also interact with troops deployed in the harshest terrain & weather conditions”.
On Friday, Naravane was accompanied by Northern Army Commander Lt Gen YK Joshi, and commander of the XIV Corps, which is responsible for the Line of Actual Control with China in eastern Ladakh, Lt Gen PGK Menon.
Menon has been leading India’s delegation in the Corps Commander level talks with China. The last discussion, the 12th round, had taken place on July 31, during which both sides had agreed to disengage from Gogra Post of Patrolling Point 17A.
Since then, sources have mentioned that India has already sent a proposal to China for the next round of talks between the Corps Commanders.
On September 16, Union Minister for External Affairs, S Jaishankar, had met China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Dushanbe. According to the MEA, the two leaders had “exchanged views on the current situation along” the LAC in eastern Ladakh. Jaishankar had noted the disengagement at Gogra Post, “however there were still some outstanding issues that needed to be resolved”.
Apart from Hot Springs, Chinese troops have been blocking Indian soldiers from accessing their traditional patrolling points in Depsang Plains – close to the strategically significant Daulat Beg Oldie base in the north. In Demchok as well, “so called civilians” had pitched tents on the Indian side of the LAC.