‘India on treasure hunt to find what happened in Galwan’: Chidambaram
Amid reports of pullback by the Chinese troops in Ladakh, Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday sought to know from the government the areas vacated by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and also where have they moved now.
Hindustan Times reported on Tuesday that China had withdrawn up to 1.5 km from friction areas in Galwan Valley, Hot Springs and Gogra, and the Indian Army also pulled back proportionately. A minor thinning of PLA soldiers has been noticed at the sensitive Finger Area near Pangong Tso.
“I welcome the disengagement and pull back by Chinese troops. Will some one tell us the place from which the Chinese troops disengaged and the place in which they are now,” Chidambaram asked on Twitter.
The early steps in disengagement came into effect soon after National Security Adviser Ajit Doval held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi over video call on Sunday. Doval and Wang’s conversation is learnt to have focused on “full and enduring restoration of peace and tranquillity” along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
This was the first contact between the Special Representatives since the border stand-off between the two sides began in May.
Launching a broadside, the Congress veteran asked what is the position of the two armies at the contested LAC and if any one of them has moved from one side of the LAC to the other.
“Similarly which is the place from which Indian troops disengaged? Did any troops — Chinese or Indian — move from one side of the LAC to the other?” asked Chidambaram.
In another follow up tweet, the leader indicated there is scant information available about the goings on in Ladakh forcing the Indian people to go on a “treasure hunt” to find out what happened on June 15.
“Answers to these questions are necessary because the Indian people are on a Treasure Hunt to find out what happened on June 15 and where,” said Chidambaram.
The PLA has withdrawn up to 2km from Patrolling Point 15 (Hot Springs) and a similar retreat is expected to be completed at PP-17 (Gogra) by Wednesday evening, with the Indian Army pulling back proportionately. This is based on an understanding reached last week by top Indian and Chinese military commanders on a phased de-escalation of the ongoing border conflict in Ladakh.
The two armies, officials say, have already created a 4km buffer zone in Galwan Valley, the site of a deadly clash which left 20 Indian and an unconfirmed number of Chinese soldiers dead on June 15.
The creation of buffer zones will temporarily restrict the patrolling activities of both armies in the region.
Satellite images on Tuesday appeared to confirm the PLA pullback from Galwan Valley. “The images clearly indicate that the PLA has moved back in Galwan Valley. It’s a positive step but constant verification and strict vigil are a must,” said Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia (retd), a former director general of military operations. Bhatia reviewed the images for HT.
Before the PLA occupied vantage positions on Finger Four in early May, Indian Army soldiers would patrol right up to Finger Eight, which New Delhi considers to be its territory. The new Chinese positions have restricted the scope of Indian patrols. Fingers Four and Eight are 8km apart.
The military buildup in Indian and Chinese depth areas, however, 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.