Chinese dig in at Pangong Tso and Gogra, India says more talks soon
With Chinese troops reluctant to step back further from Pangong Tso and Patrolling Point 17A at Gogra, two of four friction points along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, a top source in the Army said Thursday that Corps Commanders of the two sides could meet again next week to “break the logjam” over disengagement of troops.
The “need for another military or diplomatic meeting is being felt,” the source said, especially over the situation in Pangong Tso where “some differences have emerged” on the “status and claims” of the LAC and rearward movement of troops. The disengagement and de-escalation processes, the source said, are “presently stalled”.
Also Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs said, “another meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) is also expected to be scheduled soon”.
In May, Chinese troops came up to Finger 4 on the Pangong Tso north bank, 8 km west of Finger 8 which India says marks the LAC. As part of disengagement of troops, they vacated the Finger 4 base area and headed towards Finger 5. But the PLA continues to occupy positions on the ridgeline at Finger 4.
At PP 17A, the Army source said there has been “no change of status since the last report and some troops continue to be engaged at this location”. Sources had earlier said that around 50 troops each on both sides are still within a kilometre of each other at this location.
At PP 15 in the Hot Springs sector, the Chinese “indicated they will move back without conditions” further on their side of the LAC, the Army source said. The pullback, the source said, was likely to resume Thursday itself.
At PP 14 in Galwan Valley, the fourth friction point, Chinese troops have moved back to their side of the LAC. The source said some Indian Army vehicles got “stranded” and most have since been “evacuated through crossings made on the river for this purpose”.
The gap between soldiers of both sides at PP 14 and PP 15 is around 4 km and 10 km, respectively. It was at PP 14 that 20 Indian Army personnel were killed in clashes with Chinese troops on June 15.
On Thursday, Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said: “As conveyed earlier, respecting and strictly abiding by the LAC is the basis of peace and tranquility in the border areas. Several agreements concluded by India and China since 1993 firmly acknowledge this. In my statement of June 26th, I had noted that the conduct of Chinese forces this year, including the deployment of large body of troops and changes in behaviour, accompanied by unjustified and untenable claims, has been in complete disregard of all the mutual agreements.”
“We have also made it clear that India is fully committed to observing and respecting the LAC and that we will not accept any unilateral attempts to change the status quo along the LAC.”
“The two sides have agreed during the conversation of the Special Representatives to work towards complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquility,” he said.
“Both sides are engaged in discussions through the established diplomatic and military channels to achieve this objective expeditiously. I had informed last week that the 4th round of the meeting of the Senior Commanders was held on 14th July, where they also discussed further steps to ensure complete disengagement. In this context, another meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) is also expected to be scheduled soon,” Srivastava said.