- UPDATED: February 11, 2021 11:02 IST
Slight disengagement between Indian and Chinese troops aimed at clearing the ‘Finger 4’ area on the northern bank of Pangong Lake started on Wednesday according to the consensus reached between the two sides during the ninth round of military commander-level talks, sources told India Today.
Confirming the development, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defence, said frontline troops of the two sides started “synchronised and organised disengagement at the southern and northern banks of the Pangong Tso Lake”. There was no official word from New Delhi.
The Pangong Lake has been the focus of the tussle between India and China amid the border standoff in eastern Ladakh over the last nine months.
Sources in the security establishment told India Today said meetings took place between ground-level commanders of both sides in the last few days to take forward the proposals for disengagement.
“As per the plan, China will move back to Finger 8 and Indian troops will pull back to the Dhan Singh Thapa post between Finger 2 and 3. No patrolling will take place by both sides till Finger 4. This will be done in a phased manner,” sources said. While marginal thinning of troops has taken place, removal of tanks and weapons is also on the agenda.
What happened in 9th round of military talks?
In the ninth round of military talks last month, which stretched for over 16 hours, India and China agreed to push for an early disengagement of troops and resolved to continue “effective efforts” to stabilise and control the situation in eastern Ladakh.
“The two sides agreed to push for an early disengagement of the frontline troops. They also agreed to follow the important consensus of their state leaders, maintain the good momentum of dialogue and negotiation, and hold the 10th round of the Corps Commander Level Meeting at an early date to jointly advance de-escalation,” the statement said.
India also asserted that China needs to withdraw troops from several friction points, including Depsang plains, heights around Gogra and other locations that have not allowed tensions to ease.
In the Depsang area, the Chinese have strengthened their positions over the last 5-6 years and during the current standoff, there was a further build-up, including tanks being deployed. “It was felt that it’s the right time to talk about other issues as well. Indian side was firm that all issues should be resolved,” said an official.
The India-China border stand off began in May last year, when the Chinese came in 8 km between Finger 8 and Finger 4 on the North bank of Pangong Tso.
The Indian Army claims Finger 8 to be the Line of Actual Control (LAC) while the Chinese, in a clear alteration of status quo, have been camping at Finger 4 and have set up fortifications between Finger 5 and 8.