The Chinese and the Indian armies have agreed to not indiscriminately use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at the friction points in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The confidence-building measure, however, has impacted the real-time verification of the de-escalation process, as aerial objects cannot be used within 10 km of the face-off sites, a senior government official said.
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Earlier, the two armies had agreed for a 30-day moratorium on foot patrolling at all the friction points while they pulled back from their positions.
The official said that as of now, at none of the points, they were engaged in an eyeball to eyeball confrontation but a continuous verification was required and they were prepared for a long haul.
The Corps Commanders of both the armies have held four rounds of talks so far on June 6, 22, 30 and July 14 to de-escalate from the build-up areas in Galwan Valley, Gogra- Hot Springs and Finger area along the Pangong Tso (lake). India has demanded that status quo be restored along the unsettled boundary line. China had amassed troops since April-May all along Eastern Ladakh and occupied positions in India’s perception of the LAC.
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“The two armies have agreed to not take any step that could derail the ongoing talks. No foot patrolling and not flying UAVs within 10 km of the friction points are among the measures to build confidence but it also adversely affects the real-time monitoring,” said the official.
No full pullout
As reported by The Hindu , Chinese troops are yet to fully move out of Patrolling Point (PP) 15 of Hot Springs area and continue to occupy positions within 1.5 km of the India’s perception of the LAC.
“There is a very small window when UAVs can be used. The topography in some places is such where UAVs cannot be used and foot patrolling is not allowed… this is why the physical verification is slow and takes time,” said the official.
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After the Galwan Valley incident, the flashpoint of June 15 violent clashes when 20 soldiers were killed, the Corps Commanders had agreed to disengage and withdraw fully from other face-off sites along the LAC.
“General flying is not allowed and ground commanders have been asked to assess and constantly keep a vigil on the ground. The agreement allows use of UAVs but not in an indiscriminate manner,” the official noted.