Updated: August 2, 2021 7:10:09 am
AT A time when India and China are hoping to resolve the nearly 15-month military standoff in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army have established a new hotline for on-ground communication in Sikkim. Multiple such hotlines already exist between the two forces.
The Army said in a statement on Sunday that a “hotline was established between Indian Army in Kongra La, North Sikkim, and the PLA at Khamba Dzong in Tibetan Autonomous Region to further the spirit of trust and cordial relations along the borders”. It said the establishing of the new hotline coincided with PLA Day, on August 1.
“The armed forces of the two countries have well-established mechanisms for communication at ground commanders level. These hotlines in various sectors go a long way in enhancing the same and maintaining peace and tranquility at the borders,” it said.
The statement said the inauguration was attended by ground commanders from both sides and a “message of friendship and harmony was exchanged through the hotline”.
Such hotlines have been helpful in keeping things largely under control in eastern Ladakh, where the two armies are involved in the standoff. Nearly 1,500 messages have been shared at the two hotlines in eastern Ladakh, at Chushul and Daulat Beg Oldie, since the standoff began in May 2020.
The new hotline comes a day after the two sides held the 12th round of Corps Commander-level talks on the Chinese side of the Chushul-Moldo Border Personnel Meeting point on Saturday. While there has been no official word from either side yet, sources said a statement is expected on Monday.
India has been hoping for a breakthrough in the talks, which have been stuck in stalemate since February, when the two sides pulled back their troops and tanks from the heights of Kailash Range and in the finger area on the north bank of Pangong Tso. Since then, this was the third round of talks at the level of Corps Commanders.
Sources said they were hopeful of reaching an understanding for disengagement from Patrolling Points 15 and 17A in Shyok Salu area. At both these points, a small unit of PLA troops are sitting on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control since last year.