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Big breakthrough in China standoff, ‘Complete disengagement’ at Pangong Lake

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Finally after several rounds of diplomatic and military talks, Asian big powers- India and China- have reached an agreement on disengagement at Pangong Tso in Ladakh, said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday.

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“Our sustained talks with China have led to agreement on disengagement on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake. After this agreement, India-China will remove forward deployments in a phased, coordinated manner,” the Defence Minister apprised the Rajya Sabha.

“I want to assure this House that in these talks we have not conceded anything,” he asserted. “The agreement that we have been able to reach with the Chinese side for disengagement in the Pangong lake area envisages that both sides will cease their forward deployments in a phased, coordinated and verified manner.”

Mr Singh in his parliamentary address further informed that the Chinese would keep their troop present in the North Bank area to east of Finger 8 while the Indian troops would be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3.

Similar action would be taken in the South Bank by both sides.

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“These are mutual and reciprocal steps and any structures that had been built by both sides since April 2020 in both North and South Bank area will be removed and the landforms will be restored,” he said.

Furthermore, the minister informed that both sides had also agreed to a moratorium on military activities in the North Bank, including patrolling, in traditional areas, adding that the patrolling would begun when both sides reached an agreement in diplomatic and military talks. He further said there were still some outstanding issues on deployment and patrolling at some other points along the LAC in eastern Ladakh and further discussions would be needed to resolve the issue.

“We have agreed that both sides should achieve complete disengagement at the earliest and abide fully by the bilateral agreements and protocols. By now, the Chinese side is also fully aware of our resolve,” he said.

The disengagement that started on February 10 in the North and South Bank of the Pangong Lake, would “substantially restore” the situation to that before the standoff began last year, the minister said.

The Defence Minister also said that India had never accepted China’s unjustified claims and would not allow even an inch of its territory to be taken. “Pakistan has illegally given India’s land to China, and we do not recognise such an arrangement. China also claims a large area of India’s land, and we have never agreed to such unwarranted claims,” he said.

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“In Ladakh too, China moved unilaterally, and India has and will continue to ensure that our sovereignty is maintained. After China moved a large number of troops to the LAC, against our agreements, India too has made large-scale arrangements and moved in increased troops to safeguard our interests.”

In November 2021, senior government sources had told that a disengagement plan had been readied but there was no agreement on implementing it. That plan included both sides pulling back armour; tanks and armoured personnel carriers, from close to the LAC.

In May-June last year, India-China tensions resurfaced with a series of skirmishes in the Pangong Lake region, which escalated on June 14, when 20 Indian soldiers died for the country in a physical clash in Galwan Valley. Since then, there have been several rounds of talks to resolve the standoff.

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