Indian troops have moved to occupy heights, foil bid to change status quo; Brigade Commander-level meeting on
Unlike the northern bank of Pangong Tso, where the Indian Army only carries out patrolling, the southern bank is strongly held by Indian troops very close to the LAC.
In the strategic Depsang Plains, the tensions have led to the breakdown of the local arrangement which allowed Indian patrols to access patrolling points.
The decision to hold the talks at the military level, sources said, was taken after a review of discussions during the meeting Thursday of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China Border Affairs.
An official note received by the Ministry of External Affairs lists “Entities of Concern” and states that “in order to closely monitor the activities in India, Visas sponsored by Entities of Concern shall require prior security clearance”.
Hopes of a breakthrough are low given the rigid Chinese stance during diplomatic and military talks in the past month.
Talks on disengagement of troops at friction points, especially in the Pangong Tso area, and de-escalation along the LAC have not made progress beyond a point. Both sides have positioned troops and weaponry along the boundary since early May.
The promise of contracts worth almost Rs 4 lakh crore to the domestic industry over the next 5-7 years does appear impressive – but so was the figure of Rs 3.5 lakh crore for projects under the Make in India scheme, all of which got stuck in the pipeline.
Official sources said the agenda of the meeting was two-fold: de-escalation of troops and equipment mobilised by both the armies on the LAC in the area; and restoration of patrolling rights to Indian troops which has been blocked by the Chinese side since May.
The agenda of the meeting, sources said, is to reduce tensions at the Depsang Plains where both sides have massed troops on the disputed border.
Two days after the talks were held, the high-powered China Study Group (CSG) reviewed the Chinese proposal Tuesday and asked the Army to convey that the proposal of “mutual and equal” disengagement at Pangong was “not acceptable” to India.
Sources said the key agenda for the Indian side was to find a way ahead for further disengagement at Pangong Tso where the Chinese have come in around 8 km to the Indian side of the LAC.
India for return to pre-standoff sites, military talks likely
The strength of 29 squadrons by 2023 includes two Rafale squadrons, one additional MiG-29 squadron and one additional squadron of indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas jets, into the IAF fleet as per schedule.
New Delhi has decided to stick to its strategy of “incremental change despite slow progress” while pressing for the end-goal, the restoration of status quo ante as of April — before the start of the military standoff.
The dependence is likely to continue because more than 55% of Indian defence imports since 2014 have been from Russia.
The area of Pangong Tso has been more in the national spotlight than Depsang, with inhabited areas closer to the saltwater lake than in northern Ladakh.
An intelligence official told The Indian Express that more specific inputs came a few days after the first reports mid-April. The inputs were on sightings of hundreds of Chinese heavy military vehicles, moving northward from areas opposite Demchok.
An Army officer told The Indian Express that the next round of talks at the level of Corps Commander will be held within the next three to four days.
Sources told The Indian Express that besides Ladakh, the Chinese have been pushing forward in many areas of east Sikkim and in Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh where they refuse to abide by the ‘watershed principle’ for the LAC.
"The progress is good. Both forces are moving back with vehicles and structures. The target was set for this evening and it appears it is going to be achieved," a senior army officer said.
Patrolling Points (PPs) are identified and marked on the LAC, which are patrolled with a stipulated frequency by the security forces.
As the India and China start repeating the disengagement process, the Indian side is doubly cautious in its insistence on verifying every single step in detail before moving to the next step.
According to a senior Army officer, the Chinese military camp at PP14 in Galwan Valley, reconstructed at the site of the June 15 clashes in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed, has been completely dismantled and all tents have been uprooted. Troops and material have been taken back in vehicles.
A decision will have to be taken by the Army within the next six weeks on the number of troops that can be supported logistically in the remote area during the winter months by the military supply chain.