Updated: February 17, 2021 7:28:04 am
DAYS AFTER Indian and Chinese troops started the process of disengagement in a “phased, coordinated and verified manner”, the Indian Army on Tuesday released video clips and photographs of Chinese troops withdrawing from the Pangong Tso area.
Sources said the visuals were from the north bank of the Pangong Tso, and the Kailash Range area on the lake’s south bank.
The video clips — five in all — and photographs show the Chinese troops dismantling bunkers and temporary fortifications made of stone, both manually and with JCB excavators.
One video clip shows Chinese troops dismantling tents on a hillside. Another shows them dismantling tents and trudging down a mountain slope.
A third clip shows a large formation of Chinese troops walking down a hillside, towards trucks waiting to transport them to rear areas. Another clip shows PLA vehicles assembled at the base of a hill, and driving away with troops, raising a cloud of dust.
A fifth clip shows before and after visuals of an area from where Chinese troops are withdrawing, showing visible reduction in the number of troops.
The still photographs show Chinese troops dismantling bunkers, removing corrugated tin sheets, and carrying away portable generators. The photographs also show JCB excavators levelling the ground at a place where fortifications had been built.
According to the agreement reached between the Indian and Chinese military commanders, both sides have to restore all land form to as it was before the standoff began in May 2020.
Army sources said the disengagement process “was on track”, and after the withdrawal of mechanised elements, comprising tanks and infantry combat vehicles, by both sides, the infantry was now being brought back from forward deployment. “The de-induction is taking place as per plan and there have not been any hitches,” said a senior officer.
On the north bank of Pangong Tso, the Chinese have dismantled a jetty that they had constructed at Finger 5, and removed markings of a helipad, said sources.
“The entire process is being duly monitored and verified by both sides and a close watch is being maintained at the withdrawal proceedings. Everything will be verified on ground before the next level of senior commander-level talks takes place 48 hours after the process is completed on both sides of the Pangong lake,” said an officer.
On February 11, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had confirmed the start of the disengagement process on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso, in both Houses of Parliament. “Both sides will cease their forward deployments in a phased, coordinated and verified manner,” he had said.
His statement in Parliament came a day after the Chinese Defence Ministry announced the start of the disengagement process, after a nine-month military standoff along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.
As part of the process, Chinese troops will pull back from Finger 4 to east of Finger 8 on the Pangong north bank – they had come in 8 km west of Finger 8 which India says marks the LAC. Indian troops will be stationed at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3. For the time being, the stretch separating them will be a no-patrolling zone.
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