‘Disengagement an intricate process, needs constant verification’: Army
The government’s high-powered China Study Group (CSG) on Wednesday reviewed the latest developments in eastern Ladakh, with focus on the next stage of disengagement between the Indian and Chinese armies following the 14-hour meeting between senior military commanders.Updated: Jul 16, 2020 13:33 IST
India and China remain committed to “complete disengagement” which is an “intricate process” and “requires constant verification”, the Indian Army said in a statement on Thursday, two days after senior military commanders from both sides met at Chushul to discuss the road map for reducing tensions along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC).
“The senior commanders reviewed the progress on implementation of the first phase of disengagement and discussed further steps to ensure complete disengagement,” army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand said.
The government’s high-powered China Study Group (CSG) on Wednesday reviewed the latest developments in eastern Ladakh, with focus on the next stage of disengagement between the Indian and Chinese armies following the 14-hour meeting between senior military commanders.
“The two sides remain committed to the objective of complete disengagement. This process is intricate and requires constant verification. They are taking it forward through regular meetings at diplomatic and military level,” Anand said in the statement. He said India and China have been engaged in discussions through established military and diplomatic channels to address the prevailing situation along the LAC.
On the fourth meeting between the senior commanders on July 14, he said the engagement was consistent with the consensus reached between the Special Representatives of India and China on July 5 to discuss complete disengagement.
The CSG, which is the apex policy advisor to the government on China, on Wednesday evaluated the proposals and counter-proposals discussed at the corps commander-level talks before charting out the course for the next round of disengagement that is expected to begin in the Finger Area near Pangong Tso.
The focus of the current round of military talks is to hammer out a consensus on easing tensions between the two armies in the Finger Area and Depsang plains as well as pulling back weapons and equipment from friction points in other sectors.
“The involvement of the CSG reflects a synergised approach and response. India is minutely evaluating all aspects of disengagement, which will be a lengthy and laborious process,” said Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia (retd), a former director general of military operations.
A fifth meeting between delegations led by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, and Major General Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang military region could take place soon to discuss different aspects of disengagement, officials said.
Even as disengagement and de-escalation is being discussed and monitored in the highest echelons of the government, defence minister Rajnath Singh will visit Ladakh for a security review on July 17. Singh will also visit forward areas in Jammu and Kashmir on July 18. Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane will accompany the minister on the two-day tour.
The military is keeping a strict vigil on the western front to deter Pakistan from fishing in troubled waters and prevent what could turn out to be a two-front conflict, as reported by Hindustan Times on July 2.
The minister will visit Ladakh two weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unscheduled visit to the sector on July 3. The PM then declared that the “era of expansionism” is over, sending a strong signal to China about India’s determination to defend its borders.
The July 14 meeting was the fourth round of talks between the corps commander-ranked officers of the two armies who made previous attempts to reduce tensions along the border on June 6, June 22 and June 30.
Negotiations are expected to be far harder this time as the continued presence of the PLA in the Finger Area and the Depsang sector could be the sticking point in the talks.
In Tuesday’s talks, the agenda included the step-wise withdrawal of weapons and equipment to mutually agreed distances from all friction areas along the LAC and thinning the military buildup in the region.
The military dialogue will be followed by another meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs. The military commanders set the time-frame and method of disengagement while the WMCC monitors the process.
The disengagement effort involves rival troops pulling back a specified distance from face-off sites, with further retreat taking place in phases as the plan progresses on a verifiable basis on the ground every 72 hours by both sides.
The military build-up in Indian and Chinese depth areas hasn’t thinned, with both sides keeping their guard up. The deployment of thousands of soldiers, fighter jets, helicopters, tanks, artillery guns, missile systems and air defence weapons continues in the region.