Updated: February 11, 2021 7:21:24 pm
As part of the disengagement process that began on February 10, China will move its forces back to Finger 8, while Indian troops will move back to its permanent Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3 on the north bank of Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh. Similar action will take place on the south bank of the lake as well, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed the Parliament on Thursday.
Both sides have also agreed to remove any construction done by them in these regions, and the area between Finger 3 and Finger 8 will not be patrolled by either side till there is an agreement after military and diplomatic discussions. After the disengagement from the banks of the lake, the senior military commanders will meet within 48 hours to resolve other issues.
He mentioned that however there are still some outstanding issues regarding the deployment on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the region, which will be taken up in future talks.
In his statement to Rajya Sabha on Thursday morning, Singh said, “According to the agreement on disengagement with China in Pangong lake area, both sides will remove the forward deployment in a phased, coordinated and verified manner”.
He stated that “China will pull its troops on the north bank towards the east of Finger 8. Similarly, India will also position its forces at its permanent base at the Dhan Singh Thapa post near Finger 3. Similar action will be taken by both the parties in the south bank area as well.”
He said that “our approach and continuing talks have resulted in disengagement agreement with China on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake” and that it has been “agreed that within 48 hours of complete disengagement from Pangong Lake, senior commanders level talks should be held and the remaining issues should be resolved”.
Singh said that these steps “will be extended under mutual agreement and whatever construction has been done by both parties on the north and south banks from April 2020, that will be removed and earlier conditions will be maintained”. Both sides have also decided, Singh said, that they will “temporarily suspend military activities on the north bank, including patrolling of traditional locations” and patrolling will resume, he added, “only after further there is an agreement after discussions at the military and diplomatic level”.
An action based on this agreement has started from Wednesday, he said, on the north and south bank. “It is expected that this will restore the situation to before the standoff of last year,” Singh added.
In the dialogue with China at the military and diplomatic level since last year, he said, “we have told China that we want a solution to the issue on the basis of three principles:
(i) LAC should be accepted and respected by both the parties.
(ii) Neither party should attempt to change the status quo unilaterally.
(iii) All agreements should be fully adhered to by both parties.
He said that “for disengagement in the friction areas, India is of the view that the forward deployments of 2020 which are very close to each other should be pulled back and both the armies should return to their permanent and recognised posts”.
He also assured the House that “we have not lost anything in these discussions”.
However, he also said that he would like to “inform the House that there are still some outstanding issues regarding deployment and patrolling on LAC” and mentioned that “our attention will be on these in further discussions”.
“Both sides agree that complete disengagement under bilateral agreements and protocols should be done as soon as possible. After the talks so far, China is also aware of our resolve to protect the sovereignty of the country. It is our expectation that China will work with us seriously to resolve the remaining issues.” Singh said.
He expressed his appreciation for the armed forces for their display of valour and bravery even in the harsh winter conditions of the region, and said that “the disengagement is based on the foundation of the valour and courage of the martyrs, whom the country will always remember”.
Singh also mentioned that “since September last year, both sides have been communicating with each other through military and diplomatic channels” and it is, he said, “our goal to disengagement and status quo on LAC so that peace and tranquility can be restored”.
Indian forces, he said, have faced all the challenges on the north and south bank, and mentioned that “the forces had identified several areas of strategic importance and positioned themselves on top of many heights and other areas suitable to our perspective” He added that “our forces have also proved this time that they are always ready and willing to fight every challenge in protecting India’s sovereignty and integrity”.
His statement comes a day after China had announced that “synchronised and organised” disengagement had started in the Pangong Tso areas on Wednesday. Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, in a written statement, said: “The Chinese and Indian frontline troops at the southern and northern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake start synchronized and organized disengagement from February 10.”
“This move is in accordance with the consensus reached by both sides at the 9th round of China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting,” the Chinese statement said.
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