China to return to Finger 8: Rajnath

Says won’t cede an inch | Indian troops to be based at Finger 3 | Pullback in phases

China to return to Finger 8: Rajnath

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 11

India and China have started disengaging from the north and south banks of the Pangong lake with a temporary moratorium on patrolling in the areas being vacated by both sides. A meeting of senior commanders within 48 hours of the complete disengagement will sort out the remaining wrinkles in the Pangong Tso sector, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced in the Rajya Sabha today.

Aiming for April 2020 status quo

  • Structures built since April 2020 on both banks to be removed
  • Temporary moratorium on patrolling in north bank
  • Patrolling to be resumed after pact
  • Next commanders’ meet within 48 hours of total disengagement in Pangong area

The Minister revealed specifics of the withdrawal on the north bank which began on Wednesday. The Chinese army will pull back its troops to the east of Finger 8 and Indian troops will be based at their permanent location near Finger 3 area. The area between Finger 3 and Finger 8 will not be patrolled till a resolution on future deployment is reached.

The bunkers and other structures built by the Chinese army between Finger 4 and 8 will be dismantled.

Some outstanding issues regarding deployment and patrolling at some other points along the LAC in eastern Ladakh will be the focus of further discussions with the Chinese side. “This pact will substantially restore the situation to that existing prior to the commencement of the standoff last year,” Rajnath said, adding the aim is to achieve complete disengagement and restoration of status quo.

The disengagement will take place in a “phased, coordinated and verified” manner. “I want to remind the House we haven’t lost anything,” Rajnath declared. “Our approach has been guided by the resolve that we will not give even an inch of Indian territory. Our tenacity and approach during talks have yielded results,” he said.

With the backing of the Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, Rajnath did not provide clarifications to members on grounds of national security considerations. The Defence Minister complimented the troops for their valour and courage on both banks of the Pangong Tso and said the nation would always remember the sacrifices by the soldiers which have been the foundation of the disengagement from the Pangong lake.

“Our armed forces proved yet again that territorial integrity of our country remains safe in their hands,” he added.

To ensure disengagement, the Indian side had insisted that troops of both sides, who are now in close proximity, should vacate the forward deployments made in 2020 and return to the permanent and accepted bases.

“Our approach and strategy for negotiations with the Chinese side has been guided at the highest level by the PM’s resolve that we will not give even an inch of the Indian territory,” he said.

Disengagement process

  • China to pull back to east of Finger 8 of Pangong lake north bank
  • Indian troops to be based at Dhan Singh Thapa post near Finger 3
  • Area between Finger 3 and 8 to be no-patrolling zone
  • China had built structures between Finger 4 and 8, blocking Indian patrols beyond Finger 4
  • Withdrawal also in south bank
  • 5 months ago, India occupied strategic heights in south bank

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