As Delhi and Beijing move to de-escalate the situation along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh by scaling up military talks to the level of Lt Generals, The Indian Express has learnt that an Indian proposal for restoration of status quo ante in the contested areas and simultaneous de-induction of artillery and tanks from the rear areas by both armies is likely to be on the table at the June 6 meeting.
XIV Corps Commander Lt Gen Harinder Singh will lead the Indian delegation. The meeting will be held at the Chinese Border Personnel Meeting hut in Chushul-Moldo. Lt Gen Singh will make the opening statement.
A meeting at the level of Lt Generals to resolve a border dispute on the LAC is rare — all such earlier meetings have taken place at the level of Major Generals and Brigadiers.
Sources said that based on deliberations during the preparatory meeting Tuesday between Major General-level officers of the two sides, military commanders drafted a proposal which was sent to Army HQ for vetting. It is unlikely, sources said, that any major change will be made to the proposal which is meant to reduce tensions on the LAC.
“The essential idea is to restore status quo ante in the disputed areas, both in Pangong Tso and in Hot Spring sector. Both sides must go back to their deployment before the current situation arose, and no construction made during this period in the ‘grey areas’ (area lying between the Indian and Chinese perceptions of the LAC) will be allowed,” sources said.
The process of “reversion to status quo ante,” sources said, will be progressive in nature where actions will be undertaken to build mutual trust and reduce tensions between the two sides. In the initial phase, the proposal envisages a withdrawal of artillery guns and tanks from the rear areas by both sides.
Sources said China has less than 1000 troops in the disputed areas while in the general area, there are more than 5000 troops cumulatively on both sides.
Lt General Harinder Singh, sources said, is likely to be accompanied by the chief of the 3rd Infantry Division, a brigade commander, the commanding officers of a local battalion, a translator and two other officers.
Underlining that much of the tension has been on north bank of Pangong Tso and the area to its north till Galwan valley, sources said this could figure in the talks.
Two divisions of the PLA, sources said, are responsible for the region – one for the LAC till the north bank of Pangong Tso, and another which looks after the stretch from the south bank of the lake.
One of the main points of contention between the two armies is the infrastructure developed by China till Finger 4 on the north bank of Pangong Tso. There are different perceptions on where the LAC lies in some parts. India has a post between Finger 3 and Finger 4, but used to patrol till Finger 8 which it says marks the LAC. China, on the other hand, says the LAC lies at Finger 4, and has developed recent infrastructure till there, blocking Indian troops from moving beyond that point.
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