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‘Noticeable thinning of Chinese troops along the LAC in Ladakh’

Tension continues:An IAF helicopter on a recent sortienear Leh in Ladakh.AFP

Tension continues:An IAF helicopter on a recent sortienear Leh in Ladakh.AFP  

However, they have not vacated or removed semi-permanent structures: official

Chinese troops have neither vacated nor removed any of the prefabricated or semi-permanent structures built since May in the disputed sites along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh, a senior government official told The Hindu . However, the official added that in the past three days, there has been a “noticeable thinning of presence of Chinese troops” at some of the three friction points. The removal of the structures was not a part of the original June 22 agreement at the Corps Commander-level talks, till the two parties met with concrete proposals stitched together by the two governments, the official said.

“It was decided that there will be no patrolling, movement of troops and vehicles or any fresh construction activity by either side. This reduction [of structures] was not being expected,” he said.

The three areas are Galwan, Hot Springs and the Finger area near Pangong Tso (lake) in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). China has also fortified positions at Depsang plains in the north. Another official said the entire stretch along the LAC in Ladakh was seeing “worrisome hardening of Chinese positions, including the placement of 10 mechanised and armoured regiments and at least 15 positions of artillery guns.”

The situation was particularly precarious in the Finger area area near Pangong Tso, where the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has occupied positions till Finger 4, the first official said.

The distance between Finger 4-8, around 8 km, was till now patrolled both by India and China.

India considers its perception of the LAC to end at Finger 8. However, since April, the Chinese troops advanced till Finger 4 and have occupied the area where both sides regularly patrolled and face-offs used to occur, the official said. On May 18, violent clashes occurred at this site, resulting in injuries to many soldiers.

After the June 22 Corps Commander-level talks, which took place in the aftermath of the June 15 Galwan incident, where 20 Indian Army personnel were killed in a clash, both China and India agreed to reduce their presence from the friction points where they are still “eyeball to eyeball,” with Finger area emerging as a thorn in the discussion.

“The Chinese have reduced the presence in the Finger area but they have not moved back an inch. It is anticipated that if they agree to do so, then they will use it as a leverage to assert their claim in some other disputed area,” said the official.

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