India, China start partially pulling back from Galwan Valley

PLA vehicles reduced at Hot springs and Pangong Tso; but it’s still wait and watch

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 6

Twenty days after the deadly clash between Indian and Chinese troops at Galwan Valley along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), there is a minor breakthrough as both sides have started to pull back from the flashpoint.

A minimum buffer zone of 3 km between the two armies was suggested and agreed upon in the series of Lieutenant General-level meeting on June 2, 22 and 30. 

Sources said the distance of pullback initiated on Sunday night and the honesty of the PLA in doing so would be judged after 72 hours, or by Wednesday. Around June 17 some pullback had happened and then the PLA returned to hold ground.

Also read: Ladakh row: China says front-line troops taking ‘effective measures’ to disengage and ease tensions

Doval-Wang talks preceded pull-back of troops from LAC

Doval-Wang talks: Avoiding an unnecessary Kargil-type deployment

There has been some movement from both sides at PP-14, the spot of the clash on the night intervening June 15-16. Both sides will verify the spots after 72 hours. War-like stores of either side remain as they were. At Gogra Hot Springs and at the north bank of Pangong Tso some vehicles of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have moved back, hence the Indian side is stopping short of terming it as a dis-engagement for now.

The pullback is being seen as a ‘baby step’ towards the restoration of status quo ante which would include pulling back men, equipment and heavy weapons to the level of April 2020. Also, this would mean allowing the Indian Army to patrol in disputed areas like east of the ‘Finger-4’, at the north of Pangong Tso, a 135 km glacial melt lake.  The PLA has been stopping Indian patrols.

On the Indian side, the military is still waiting and watching as each move can be reversed by the PLA at its will. Sources said the pullback at Galwan could have been necessitated due to the heavy flow of water in the narrow valley. This is the snow-melt period in this high-altitude dry plateau. With the mountain being tree-less, the flow of snowmelt is unimpeded hence the rapid current.

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