Disengagement process in eastern Ladakh in final phase: Top defence officials to parliamentary panel

Meeting gets ‘stormy’ as opposition members shoot several questions at defence officials

Disengagement process in eastern Ladakh in final phase: Top defence officials to parliamentary panel

Indian and Chinese troops pulling back in eastern Ladakh. PTI File

New Delhi, February 18

The disengagement process between India and China in eastern Ladakh is in final stages and on the brink of completion, top officials of the country's defence establishment told a parliamentary panel during a meeting on Thursday.

The meeting, said sources, turned "stormy" amid several questions asked by opposition members, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, top officials from the three armed forces and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar on Thursday deposed before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence chaired by BJP leader Jual Oram.

The meeting witnessed an argument between Oram and Gandhi when the Congress leader asked some specific questions to the officials deposing before the panel, which the chairman felt was not on the agenda of the meeting, sources said.

Also read: China says disengagement of Chinese, Indian troops in eastern Ladakh going on smoothly

The agenda of the meeting was to examine demands for grants of the Defence Ministry in this year's Budget.

In the presentation before the panel, officials informed that Indian Air Force (IAF) for the year was planning to acquire Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), Avro transport aircraft replacement, upgrade of UAV systems, Harop (P-IV), Avionics upgrade of IL-76, IL-78 among others, according to sources.

The committee was also informed that the 83 Tejas aircraft, acquisition of which was approved by Union Cabinet last month, will be inducted in four squadrons. Induction of these aircraft would augment the present overall fighter squadron strength of IAF and would partially offset the phasing out of MiG-21 and MiG-27 squadrons, said sources.

Responding to members' question, top officers from armed forces also informed the panel that the disengagement between armed forces of India and China in eastern Ladakh was in final stages and on the brink of completion, sources in the panel said.

Earlier in a statement given to both Houses of Parliament during the first part of the Budget Session, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had said India and China have reached an agreement on disengagement in the north and south banks of Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh to "cease" forward deployment of troops in a "phased, coordinated and verifiable" manner.

Singh had also assured that India has not conceded anything in the sustained talks with China and it will not allow even an inch of its territory to be taken away by anyone. PTI

Tribune Shorts


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