The 13th round of Corps Commander-level talks between India and China to find a solution to the 17-month-old standoff in eastern Ladakh will be held on the Chinese side at the Chushul-Moldo Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) point on Sunday. .
Lt Gen PGK Menon, Commander of XIV Corps, will lead the Indian delegation, which will also include a diplomatic representative. The delegation to China will be led by Major General Liu Lin, Commander of the South Xinjiang Military District.
Just a day before the talks, Army Chief General MM Naravane said on Saturday that China is building infrastructure on its side in the region, which means it is “here to stay”.
Naravane, speaking at a conference organized by a media house, expressed concern that both the countries, with the infrastructure development in the region, for additional troops and military equipment that were brought in last year, line of actual control There will be a Line of Control with Pakistan in Eastern Ladakh, even if it is not as active as the LoC.
“It is a matter of concern that the massive construction, what had happened, persisted. And to sustain that kind of construction, an equal amount of infrastructure has been developed on the Chinese side. That means they are there to stay,” Naravane said. “But if they’re there to stay, we’re there to stay too. And the build-up on our side, and the developments on our side is as good as the PLA has done.”
He added that India is “keeping a close watch on all those developments”.
He said that even if the Chinese troops stayed there for the second winter, it would definitely mean that we would be in a kind of LoC situation. However, he said it would be “no”. [be] An active LC as on the Western Front”.
“Of course, we have to keep a close watch on all their military build-up and deployment so that they don’t fall into misadventures again,” he said.
After the standoff began in May 2020, both India and China brought additional troops and military equipment to the region last year. Both sides have about 50,000 troops in the depth areas, and a large number of them were stationed. It was a cold winter last year.
As Naravane said, senior officials of the defense establishment are concerned about military build-up in the region. However, these additional troops and military equipment, including tanks, artillery and air defense assets, can only be sent back to their traditional bases – a process called de-escalation – after the friction points have been dismantled. goes.
The army chief said he was not aware of why China did what it did in eastern Ladakh last year, but added that “whatever it may be, I don’t think they are targeting any of those objectives.” have been able to achieve because of the rapid response by the Indian Armed Forces”.
Reiterating a recent statement from the Ministry of External Affairs, he said the large-scale construction by them “and non-adherence to various protocols laid down in the past” was the “trigger for what happened”.
He noted that the standoff has prompted the military to realize that it “needs to do more as far as ISR is required” that is intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and that it has been “over the past year”. This has been the thrust of our modernization”. “
The final round of Corps Commander-level talks took place on July 31, after which the two sides parted ways from Patrolling Point (PP) 17A in the Gogra post area. Troops from both sides withdrew to their traditional bases in the area, and a temporary no-patrol zone was created.
China, however, refused to pull its troops back from PP15 at Hot Springs, where a platoon-sized number of its troops continue. PP15 and PP17A were the two friction points where China agreed to secede from June 2020 but has not completed the withdrawal of its troops.
The understanding of separation from PP17A came after months of standoff beginning in February, when both sides withdrew their troops and tanks from forward positions along the north and south coast. pangong tso.
Last year, when the standoff began, Chinese troops positioned themselves on Finger 4, one of the spurs on the northern bank of Pangong Tso.
According to India, the LAC passes through Finger 8, which is 8 km east of Finger 4. China had also crossed the LAC at PP14 in Galwan Valley, PP15 and PP17A.
The first Corps Commander level talks were held on June 6, 2020, after which both sides reached an agreement to withdraw their troops. During this pullback, soldiers from both sides clashed in the Galwan Valley on June 15, in which 20 Indians and at least four Chinese soldiers were killed after a night of violent, one-on-one fighting during which Chinese soldiers fought. He allegedly used batons wrapped with barbed wire to attack the Indian soldiers. Soon after, the two sides were separated by PP14, but not by other friction zones.
As the two sides reached an impasse, in late August 2020 India overtook China to deploy its troops to the previously unoccupied heights of the Kailash range in the Chushul sub-region on the northern bank of Pangong Tso.
India’s position not only allowed it to dominate the strategically sensitive Spanggur Gap, which could be used to launch an offensive – as China did in 1962 – but also the presence of Indian troops under China’s Moldo garrison. There was also a direct view about it.
Over the next few days, Indian troops also captured the peaks above the Chinese positions at Finger 4 on the northern bank of the lake. During the commotion, both sides fired warning shells for the first time in decades.
The situation remained the same even in the severe winter of Ladakh. A breakthrough was achieved during talks in January, after which both sides withdrew their troops and tanks from the northern and southern flanks of Pangong Tso, which were a few hundred meters away in some places.
There was no change in the ground situation until August, when PP17A was discontinued.
At the moment, PP15 is a friction point in the hot springs, but the soldiers are not in an eye-popping position.
Beyond this, however, Chinese troops continue to block Indian troops from reaching their five conventional patrol lines at Depsang Plains—PP10, PP11, PP11A, PP12, PP13. Chinese troops have not allowed Indian troops to advance beyond a place called Bottleneck, which is about 18 km inside the LAC.
According to top government sources, India last accessed these patrolling points in January-February 2020.
The Depsang Plain is strategically sensitive because, like the Spanggur Gap, the flat area is a potential launchpad for offensive operations. Additionally, it is just 30 km south of India’s Daulat Beg Oldi base, close to the Karakoram Pass in the north.
In Demchok too, some “so-called citizens” have pitched tents on the Indian side of the Charding Nala.