No breakthrough, but two sides agree to sustain tempo of dialogue to maintain peace and tranquility at border
As situation remained tense at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh for more than 50 days now, Corps Commanders of the Indian and Chinese armies held the third round of talks on Tuesday to end the impasse. Though there was no major breakthrough in the marathon parleys, the two sides agreed to sustain the tempo of dialogue to maintain peace and tranquility at the border.
The talks between Leh based 14 Corps chief Lt General Harinder Singh and Major General Liu Lin, commander of South Xinjiang Military District, were held at Chushul border meeting point on the LAC. This was the third round of parleys between the two commanders since June 6 to defuse tension at the LAC.
Matters took a turn for the worst on June 15 when a bloody brawl broke out between the Chinese and Indian troops at the Galwan valley leaving 20 Indian Army personnel martyred. Against that backdrop, the two military bosses met on June 22 for the second time and arrived at “mutual consensus” to disengage from the stand-off sites. The two sides discussed modalities to disengage from all the “friction” areas.
There are at least four “friction” points, including the Galwan valley, Pangong Tso, Hot Springs and Gogra. Adding to these sites, the Chinese of late have started military activities on their side of the LAC in the Depsang valley. This area saw a face-off for more than four weeks in 2013 before intervention at the highest diplomatic and military levels brought the situation under control.
Given this scenario, the two commanders reviewed the progress in the latest round of talks on Tuesday. Though there was no noticeable movement in the proposed de-escalation with China continuing with its military build-up in the Galwan valley and Pangong Tso (lake), the two sides nonetheless concurred on keeping all lines of communication open, sources said here.
They also said as the Chinese have intruded more than five km in the Pangong Tso area and have built bunkers in that region besides the Galwan valley, the Indian armed forces are ready for a long haul. The security establishment is more or less convinced now that the Chinese are in no hurry to abide by the agreements on June 6 and 22 and have not withdrawn their troops from the face-off points.
Insisting that the Chinese disengage at the earliest, India on Tuesday conveyed to the Chinese side that status quo ante prior to May 5 must be restored, sources said. However, the Chinese, have shown no inclination to ease the pressure on the LAC. India has taken counter measures in terms of enhanced force levels and deployment of heavy weaponry in the operational areas.
In fact, the Chinese have also started military activities in other sectors of the LAC in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim. The Indian forces have also enhanced their strength in all these sectors to meet any challenge, sources said.
They admitted situation may normalise to an extent only in winter months. Elaborating upon this aspect, they said both the armies curtail their patrols during those months due to harsh weather conditions. In that backdrop, the Chinese may ease their activities and return, sources said adding as of now it is “wait and watch” for the operational commanders at the ground.
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 | PNS | New Delhi