SOURCE: INDIA TODAY
China, which is insisting that India should vacate mountain tops on the southern bank of Pangong Lake, is unwilling to discuss disengagement in other places in eastern Ladakh where the build-up by the two sides has triggered a war-like situation over the last four months.
India Today has learnt that the Chinese army has been adamant to resolve the situation first on the southern bank where the Indian troops are in a position of strength tactically.
India, however, wants a roadmap for de-escalation all across eastern Ladakh at the Line of Actual Control. India’s stand in the sixth round of Corps Commander level talks was that all friction areas including Depsang plains should be discussed for disengagement all along LAC, sources said.
“Why should discussions be restricted to one or two places when there is a massive build-up all across,” an official said.
India has occupied critical mountain heights on the southern bank of the Pangong Lake include Rechin La, Rezang La, Mukpari that were unmanned till now. This along with some other peaks has allowed India to dominate Spangur Gap under Chinese control and also the Moldo garrison on the Chinese side.
This has been irking the Chinese army that has made multiple attempts to dislodge Indian troops leading to instances of warning gunshots being fired.
CHANGED RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
India changed the rules of engagement after the Galwan clash of June 15 where 20 Indian soldiers including commanding officer of 16 Bihar regiment Col Santosh Babu was killed in action. The Chinese attacked Indian troops with medieval barbaric weapons like iron-studded clubs.
Since then, the Indian Army has given powers to commanders on the ground to make a decision whether to use firearms if their troops face a life-threatening situation and this has been communicated to China as well, sources said.
The Indian Army has put barbed wires as obstacles at heights under its control at the Line of Actual Control bordering Ladakh signalling to the Chinese not to enter its territory as PLA has been making multiple attempts take over Indian held positions, sources said.
INDIA ASKS CHINA TO MOVE BACK FIRST
In the recent talks at the Corps Commander level, India made it clear that since China made the first move, they should pull back first and it will be reciprocated by India, sources said.
However, China is showing little interest in immediate disengagement in Pangong Tso finger areas, Hotsprings and Depsang.
Sources added that at the talks, the Indian side said if China is not willing to go back to status quo ante, Indian troops will be deployed for the long haul.
The Indian delegation also spoke of the need for a roadmap for disengagement and de-escalation all along the LAC in Ladakh.
On September 21, the Indian and Chinese Senior Commanders held the 6th round of Corp Commander level meeting.
“The two sides had candid and in-depth exchanges of views on stabilizing the situation along the LAC in the India – China border areas,” the joint statement said.
China on the other hand has asked India to vacate the unmanned mountain tops it has occupied in the last few days.
After the talks, a joint statement by India and China said both sides have agreed not to send additional troops to forward areas amid the over four-month tussle between the two countries at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.
“The two sides agreed to earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthen communication on the ground, avoid misunderstandings and misjudgements, stop sending more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground, and avoid taking any actions that may complicate the situation,” a joint statement said.
It was also decided to hold the seventh Corps Commander level meet soon.
“The two sides also agreed to hold the 7th round of Military Commander-Level Meeting as soon as possible, take practical measures to properly solve problems on the ground, and jointly safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border area,” the statement added.
The Indian delegation for the first time had a representative from the Ministry of External Affairs part of the military talks. Joint Secretary in MEA Navin Srivastava was part of the talks.
Another addition was Lt Gen PGK Menon from the Army HQ. He is tipped to be the next Commander of the Leh based 14 Corps that is headed by Lt Gen Harinder Singh who has been heading the Indian delegation in the military level talks.