Monday, August 3, 2020

LAC row: Depsang & Pangong pullback stalled, military talks deferred | India News

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NEW DELHI: With Chinese troops showing no signs of pulling back from Pangong Tso and Depsang Plains in eastern Ladakh, while also continuing to increase deployments along the Line of Actual Control right till Arunachal Pradesh, the next round of corps commander-level talks has been deferred to next week.
India “did not insist” on holding the fifth round of talks between 14 Corps commander Lt General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin on July 30, as was initially proposed, in view of China’s “continuing intransigence” on the ground.
After the high-powered China Study Group held a meeting this week to fine-tune India’s strategy, officials say there could be two reasons for the People’s Liberation Army to drag its feet on troop disengagement at Pangong Tso and Patrolling Point (PP)-17A at Gogra. The PLA, for one, could still be contemplating whether it should implement the disengagement proposals it had agreed to during the fourth round of military talks on July 14. “It does take time to finalise what is acceptable and what is not, along with the requisite political approvals,” said a senior official.
“But the other reason could be that the PLA is simply biding time to present us with a fait accompli once winter sets in. Either way, we are prepared for the long haul. Restoration of status quo ante is not on the cards as of now,” he added.
The Army has already kicked off the massive logistical exercise for “advance winter stocking”, with rations, specialised clothing, prefabricated shelters, arctic tents and other equipment to maintain its well over 30,000 troops deployed in Ladakh, as was reported by TOI last month.
Both sides have gone in for troop, artillery and armour build-ups in “depth areas” in all the three sectors of the 3,488-km LAC — western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal).
“Other than Ladakh, the other areas are quiet with normal troop movements,” said another official.
The PLA of course has resolutely dug in on the north bank of Pangong Tso, refusing till now to pull back eastwards from the 8-km stretch it has occupied from ‘Finger-4’ to ‘Finger-8’. The troop disengagement has been fully completed only at PP-14 in Galwan Valley, the site of the June 15 skirmish, and PP-15 in Hot Springs.

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