Indian, Chinese armies ‘disengaging’ in a phased manner: Army Chief on eastern Ladakh row : The Tribune India

Indian, Chinese armies ‘disengaging’ in a phased manner: Army Chief on eastern Ladakh row

Ongoing dialogue will sort out all the perceived differences between the two countries

Indian, Chinese armies ‘disengaging’ in a phased manner: Army Chief on eastern Ladakh row

Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane. — PTI

Dehradun, June 13

The “entire situation” along India’s border with China is under control, and both the armies are “disengaging” in a phased manner beginning from Galwan Valley, Army Chief Gen MM Naravane said on Saturday, in the first official confirmation of mutual pulling back of troops after the face-off began in eastern Ladakh over five weeks back.

The Chief of Army Staff also said military talks between the two armies had been “very fruitful”, and exuded confidence that the ongoing dialogue would “settle” all perceived differences over the Line of Actual Control, the de-facto Sino-India boundary.

Gen Naravane was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the passing out parade of the Indian Military Academy.

“Both sides are disengaging in a phased manner. We have started from the north, from the area of the Galwan river where a lot of disengagement has taken place. It has been a very fruitful dialogue that we have had. As I said, it will go on and the situation will improve as we go on,” he said.

The Indian and Chinese armies are engaged in the standoff in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh. A sizeable number of the Chinese Army personnel even transgressed into the Indian side of the de-facto border in several areas including Pangong Tso.

The Indian Army has been fiercely objecting to the transgressions and demanding their immediate withdrawal for the restoration of peace and tranquillity in the area. Both sides held a series of talks in the last few days to resolve the row.

“I would like to assure everyone that the entire situation along our borders with China is under control. We are having a series of talks which started with corps commander level talks which were followed up with meetings at the local level between commanders of equivalent ranks,” Naravane said.

“As a result, a lot of disengagement has taken place and we are hopeful that through the continued dialogue that we are having, all perceived differences that we (India and China) have will be set to rest,” he said.

The military sources, on Tuesday, had claimed that the two armies began “disengagement” around patrolling points 14 and 15 in Galwan Valley and another in the Hot Spring area, adding that the Chinese side had even moved back up to 1.5 km in the two areas.

However, neither the Ministry of External Affairs nor the Ministry of Defence responded to the queries about the disengagement so far.

People keeping track of the stand-off suggested that there was no evidence so far to show that the Chinese troops were withdrawn from the Indian side of the LAC in Galwan Valley and Hot Spring.

In their first serious efforts to end the row, Lt General Harinder Singh, the general officer commanding of Leh-based 14 Corps, and Commander of the Tibet Military District Maj Gen Liu Lin held a nearly seven-hour meeting on June 6.

The meeting was followed by Major General-level talks on Wednesday and Friday. The Indian side, on both the occasion, pitched for the restoration of status quo ante and immediate withdrawal of thousands of Chinese troops from the areas which India considers on its side of the LAC.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, on Friday, reviewed India’s overall military preparedness in eastern Ladakh and several other sensitive areas along the Line of Actual Control in Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh.

In the review meeting, Rajnath Singh told the top military brass to continue to deal with the situation in eastern Ladakh and other areas with “firmness”, at the same time insisting that the two sides must resolve the row through talks, they said.

Following the stand-off in eastern Ladakh, the two sides have deployed additional troops along the LAC, the de-facto Sino-India border, in North Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh in the last few days, the sources said.

After the stand-off began in early last month, Indian military leadership decided that the Indian troops would adopt a firm approach in dealing with the aggressive posturing by the Chinese troops in all disputed areas of Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie.

The Chinese Army has been gradually ramping up its strategic reserves in its rear bases near the LAC by rushing in artillery guns, infantry combat vehicles and heavy military equipment.

The trigger for the face-off was China’s stiff opposition to India laying a key road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso Lake besides construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.

The road in the Finger area in Pangong Tso is considered crucial for India to carry out a patrol. India has already decided not to stall any border infrastructure projects in eastern Ladakh in view of Chinese protests.

The situation in the area deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on May 5 and 6. The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9.

The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LAC. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it.

Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas. PTI

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