Chinese troops move out of Patrolling Point 15 in eastern Ladakh

This July 6, 2020, satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows the Galwan Valley along the disputed border between India and China.   | Photo Credit: AP

Chinese troops have fully moved out of the Patrolling Point (PP) 15 of the Hot Springs area in eastern Ladakh as part of the disengagement underway to reduce tensions on the border, a defence source said on Wednesday.

Separately, on Tuesday, the Chinese Consul General in Mumbai Tang Guocai acknowledged Chinese casualties, without revealing any numbers, during the Galwan clash on June 15, which resulted in deaths of 20 Indian soldiers.

“At PP15, they have fully gone back. The disengagement is complete there. At PP17, the pullback is underway. It is expected to be over by Thursday or Friday,” the defence source stated. At the Finger 4 area of Pangong Tso, some more people and vehicles have gone back but there is no pull back as yet, the source stated. Complete disengagement at Pangong Tso area is expected to take time.

On the buffer zone that is being created, the source stated that it was not a buffer zone as being described, but it was decided only to prevent Galwan-like clashes during the disengagement process in future. “Given the incident last time during disengagement, it was decided during the Corps Commanders talks that in the intervening period [of disengagement], there should be no one in between [at the stand-off sites],” the source said, adding that it is purely temporary.

As reported by The Hindu, the disengagement and pullback at PP4 in the Galwan Valley has already been completed and verified on the ground and a buffer zone of 3.5-4 km was created, which will be out of bounds for foot patrols from both sides for the next 30 days.

The disengagement began after the telephonic conversation between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday, where it was agreed that both sides should complete the ongoing disengagement process along the LAC expeditiously.

Chinese casualties

While the Indian Army had said that there were casualties on both sides during the Galwan clash, China has so far not formally acknowledged any deaths. Writing on India-China relations in the Free Press Journal on Tuesday, Mr. Tang said, “Although the Chinese side also suffered casualties, the Chinese media and self-media by and large have maintained a calmer stance and refrained from hyping it up.” When asked, the Chinese Embassy declined to give further details, or clarify whether the term casualties referred to deaths or injuries.

Also read: Days of disengagement: On India-China LAC standoff

In the first acknowledgment by China of casualties on their side, the Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, had told news agency Press Trust of India in an interview on June 25 about “fierce physical conflicts and casualties between the two sides”.

Clarity sought

Welcoming the disengagement and pullback of Chinese troops, former Union minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram sought clarity from the government on the issue. “Will someone tell us the place from which the Chinese troops disengaged and the place in which they are now?” he questioned on Twitter.

“Similarly, which is the place from which Indian troops disengaged? Did any troops, Chinese or Indian, move from one side of the LAC to the other?” Mr. Chidambaram further asked.

He said answers to these questions were necessary because the Indian people are on a “treasure hunt” to find out what happened on June 15, and where.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 8:58:19 AM |

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