New Delhi, September 21
The two pending friction points along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh could see stiff negotiations between India and China. One of the friction points at Depsang — a high plateau — is strategically crucial for both sides. Speaking at an event, Army Chief General Manoj Pande on Tuesday night said: “We still have two friction points and we are hopeful of moving forward. I am sure we will be able to find a resolution on these.” Sources said he was referring to the stalemate at Depsang plains and at Charding La nullah in Demchok.
After the disengagement at Gogra Hot Springs (patrolling point 15), that was verified on September 13, there was euphoria among certain sections. Some prematurely speculated that a meeting could be possible between PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
At Depsang, a 972-sq km plateau where the altitude is above 15,000 feet, has the armies of both the sides within striking distance. The Aksai Chin, which is under illegal occupation of China, lies east of Depsang while the Siachen Glacier is at the north-western edge.
India has been objecting to PLA deliberately blocking Indian patrols along routes eastwards of Depsang, sources said. The PLA has been using a clause in the existing border agreements to block the Indian patrols.
India and China have treaties to ensure peace along the LAC. One of these is on the conduct of soldiers. A clause reads: “Soldiers on patrol in disputed areas (where overlapping claims exist) on coming face to face unfurl a banner asking the each other to go back.”
The PLA has stationed vehicles to block the designated patrol route. With Chinese vehicles stationed there by rotation, the soldiers on both sides come face to face and are mandated to return.
Patrolling will need to commence lest China makes claims on LAC’s grey zone areas. The second is the buildup at the Charding La Nullah. The Chinese approach Charding La, a 19,120 feet-high pass from its southern approach. The peak on the LAC is patrolled by the Indian Army from along nullah. The Chinese have to use the route too.
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