The situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in eastern Ladakh is “stable but unpredictable”, Army chief General Manoj Pande said on Saturday.
He said five of the seven friction points had been resolved and the focus was now on the remaining two. He said there was no major reduction in the strength of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops along the LAC.
“There are ongoing talks at the political, diplomatic and military level which have been going on between the two sides. Because of these talks, we have been able to find resolution for five of the seven friction points,” Gen. Pande said at a seminar organised by The Chanakya Dialogues. He added that attempts were on to find resolution for the remaining two friction points.
Referring to the 25th round of Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) talks held on October 15, Gen. Pande said they were looking to the 17th round of Corps Commander talks. Through dialogue we hope to find resolution, Gen. Pande said.
Since the stand-off began in May 2020, the two sides have so far held 16 rounds of talks, with disengagement undertaken from both sides of Pangong Tso in February 2021, from PP-17 in the Gogra-Hot Springs area in August 2022, and from PP-15 in September, in addition to Galwan in 2020 after the violent clash. The 16th round of talks was held on July 17, 2022 at the Chushul border personnel meeting point on the Indian side.
In Focus podcast | What explains China’s actions at the Line of Actual Control?
On the overall build up by the PLA, the Army chief said there had been no major reduction. Elaborating he said, “Some of their brigades which have come forward for training, with the onset of winter there are indications that they are going back. But LAC per se, there has been no major reduction in strength.”
He stated that infrastructure development by India was going on “unabated”, and there were now roads, helipads, airfields right up to the passes.
One of the notable developments was the G695 highway, which is parallel to the LAC, which gave them the “ability not only to move forces forward but also switch forces from one sector to another”, he said.
On the Indian Army’s preparations, Gen. Pande said the transition to winter posture was currently under way. “We have also made sure we have adequate forces, adequate reserves to respond to any contingency. In the larger context, we ned to very carefully calibrate our actions on the LAC to be able to safeguard our interests yet be able to deal with any kind of contingency,” he added.
The friction points that remain now are Demchok and Depsang, which China has constantly refused to accept maintaining that they are not a part of the current stand-off.
India will continue to press for complete disengagement and de-escalation from all friction areas and the Corps Commander-level talks will continue, officials have said.
India has constantly stated that the relationship cannot go back to normal as long as the situation along the LAC continues and has repeatedly called for the restoration of status quo along the LAC. Over 50,000 troops and heavy equipment continue to be deployed on both sides of the LAC.