Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 19
Armed with evidence of physical verification of troops dis-engaging from along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladkah, Corps Commanders of the two countries are slated to meet on Saturday to discuss the next steps of the dis-engagement process.
The meeting will be held at 10 am on the Chinese side of the LAC at Spanggur Gap in Moldo.
The first phase of the dis-engagement process entails both sides withdrawing from positions on the north bank and south bank of Pangong Tso, a 135 km-wide glacial melt lake. The next phases will see talks for similar pull-back at Depsang, Gogra and Hot Springs along the 823 km of LAC in eastern Ladakh. Since April 2020, there has been a massive build-up by either side.
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The timeline for the first phase of dis-engagement was between February 22 and February 24. The matters have speeded up as both sides have withdrawn tanks, troops, guns and all vehicles back at their home bases. The pull-back includes dismantling all infrastructure created after April 2020, which includes removing bunkers, helipads, housing units and tents.
A physical verification has been done by both sides using permissible means – physical visits and UAVs.
The commanders can either accept that the disengagement process has been done as per the agreement or can point out to any issues which remain.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told the Rajya Sabha on February 11 about the future plan and how further discussions would be done. “There are still some outstanding issues with regard to deployment and patrolling at some other points along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. These will be the focus of further discussions with the Chinese side,” he said.
All along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh there are separate locations where militaries of both sides are in eyeball-to-eyeball situations.
Besides Pangong Tso, the next phases will cover resumption of patrolling limits in areas along the LAC, which have overlapping claims by both sides.
Then comes the issue of 900 square km Depsang plains located north of the Shyok river. Located at an altitude of 16,000 feet, the Indian Army holds a majority of the Depsang plains while People’s Liberation Army of China holds the eastern edge of the plains.
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