The Indian Army and Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) divisional commanders are expected to hold a meeting at Spanggur Gap on Tuesday to confirm the withdrawal of troops from both sides to September 1 positions from Demchok and Chumar along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh.
Authoritative government sources said troop withdrawal from both sides was discussed at the divisional commanders level meeting in Chushul on September 26 and followed by a meeting between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in New York the next day. The troop withdrawal from both sides began at 6.00 am on September 27, even as Swaraj went on record saying that both sides will vacate any transgression on the LAC by September 30. The withdrawal was completed the same day.
Official sources said that both armies conducted an aerial reconnaissance on September 28 to confirm that PLA troops had vacated transgressions on Point 4991, Point 63, Point 30R and Point 5109 in the Chumar sector and Chinese civilians had gone back from Demchok sector.
“Both sides have confirmed the withdrawal by aerial verifications with the Chinese PLA uprooting their tents and going back to their original positions of September 1. The September 30 meeting is being held to undertake a review post-withdrawal and raise outstanding issues, if any,” said a senior Indian official.
One section of the Indian security establishment attributes the PLA incursions during Chinese President Xi Jinping visit to Delhi as a message that the border is still disputed, while Beijing watchers feel that the latest flare-up was part of the tussle within the middle kingdom. According to them, the Chumar incident was a response to President Xi elevating two PLA generals close to him as vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission and head of the military’s disciplinary commission. On September 21, after returning from India, President Xi ensured that the PLA commanders followed his instructions to the last word without any deviation such as Chumar.