In first remarks on efforts to lower tensions along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh, Army chief General MM Naravane confirmed Saturday that “disengagement” of Chinese and Indian troops has begun in the Galwan area, and both sides “are disengaging in a phased manner”.
He said military talks between the two sides have been “very fruitful” and “the situation will keep improving as we go on”.
Speaking to reporters in Dehradun after attending the passing out parade at the Indian Military Academy, General Naravane said, “We have started from the north, from the area of the Galwan river, where a lot of disengagement has happened.”
Responding to questions, he said: “I would not like to use the word retreated in any context. There is no retreat. The correct word would be disengagement, and both sides are disengaging in a phased manner.”
He did not comment on the situation in Pangong Tso where the faceoff continues on the north bank of the lake — Chinese troops have stopped Indian patrols at Finger 4, 8 km west of Finger 8 which India says marks the LAC.
On the ongoing military talks between the two sides, the Army chief said “it has been a very fruitful dialogue that we have had”, that the talks will “continue and by and by, the situation will keep improving as we go on”.
“I would just like to assure everyone that the entire situation along our borders with China is under control. We are having a series of talks. We started with the Corps Commander level talks on the 6th of this month.”
“This has been followed up by a number of meetings at the local level between commanders of equivalent ranks. As a result of this, a lot of disengagement has taken place, and we are hopeful, that through this continued dialogue that we are having, all perceived differences that we have will be set to rest.”
On June 6, XIV Corps Commander Lt General Harinder Singh met South Xinjiang Military District Commander Major General Liu Lin. Thereafter, Division Commanders of both sides have met twice to discuss disengagement from several points in the Galwan region and the Hot Spring area.
To a query on Nepal bringing a Bill to change its map by including areas on Indian maps, General Naravane said, “We have a very strong relationship with Nepal”. He said India shares geographical, historical, cultural and religious linkages with Nepal and there’s a “very strong people-to-people connect”. India’s relations with Nepal, he said, “has always been strong, and will remain strong in the future”.
His comment last month that Nepal may have raised the border issue “at the behest of someone else” – hinting at China – angered Nepal and sparked protests there.
On J&K, the Army chief pointed to the “successes” that security forces have had in recent days. “In the last 10-15 days alone, more than 15 terrorists have been killed. All of this has been because of very close cooperation and coordination between all the security forces operating” there, he said.
Underlining that “most of the operations have been based on information provided by the locals themselves,” he said it “goes to show that they are also absolutely fed up with militancy and terrorism and they want that the situation should return to normal”.