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Getting China to pull back behind Finger 8 a huge success for us: Northern Army chief

Lt General Joshi said the purpose behind occupying the heights along Kailash Range on the southern bank of Pangong Tso had been achieved with the disengagement on the northern bank of the lake.

Written by Nirupama Subramanian | New Delhi |
Updated: February 18, 2021 7:08:26 am
With Lt General Y K Joshi, Northern Army Commander

Northern Army Commander Lt General Y K Joshi said Wednesday that getting the People’s Liberation Army to withdraw beyond the Indian claim line at Finger 8 on the north bank of Pangong Tso is a “huge success for India”.

In an email interview to The Indian Express, Lt General Joshi said the purpose behind occupying the heights along Kailash Range on the southern bank of Pangong Tso had been achieved with the disengagement on the northern bank of the lake.

He said a “misperception is being created” to say that India had lost out by accepting the no-patrolling buffer zone between Fingers 4 and 8.

“The fact is that it is a huge success for us. Firstly, PLA is moving back beyond our claim line that is Finger 8. Secondly, this agreement denies them the advantage of patrolling till Finger 4. In fact, PLA will not be carrying out any activity, military or otherwise in the areas claimed by us. Thirdly, they will be restoring the entire landform within our claim line and dismantling all the structures that were created post April 2020,” he said.

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“At one point, PLA was not accepting to vacate this area between Finger 4 and Finger 8, but once the tables were turned on August 29/30, it was forced to negotiate as per our terms,” he said.

On these dates last year, Indian Army’s Special Forces occupied the most dominating features of the Rechin La-Rezang La complex on the Kailash Range, which helped it dominate the PLA’s Moldo garrison and areas beyond. In coordinated moves, the Indian Army also occupied the heights dominating PLA positions along Finger 4.

“We were able to place tanks at Rechin La and Rezang La which was unthinkable before. This turned the tables on the PLA and brought them to the negotiating table,” Lt General Joshi said, suggesting that India would not be placed at a disadvantage by vacating those heights.

“We occupied (those heights) with a purpose to push the negotiations to disengagement. It was meant to give us an advantage, but it cannot be an advantage in perpetuity. We achieved what we wished to achieve, namely the disengagement in the north bank,” he said.

He said “so far the disengagement has been smooth and satisfactory”. The process was being monitored and verified on a daily basis. Flag meetings are held between the PLA and the Indian Army every morning to coordinate the day’s activities, and review the previous day’s implementation of the disengagement plan.

“For the first time in a faceoff with the PLA at LAC in any sector, the agreement has been put in writing, ratified by higher headquarters and then put into action. Every day, twice we are verifying every action of disengagement and confirming during the Flag Meetings. Hence, it is a very deliberate process that is being adopted, leaving no space for doubts or non-adherence,” he said, adding that the PLA was showing “sincerity of purpose”. The two sides, he said, were following a four-step plan for disengagement.

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