Indian and Chinese troops ‘pull back’ in Ladakh zone
Indian and Chinese troops on Thursday began withdrawing from Gogra-Hot Springs in eastern Ladakh after reaching a consensus during the 16th round of military talks in July, a joint statement released by India’s defence ministry said.
“On 8th September 2022, according to the consensus reached in the 16th round of India China Corps Commander Level Meeting, the Indian and Chinese troops in the area of Gogra-Hot Springs (Patrolling Point-15) have begun to disengage in a coordinated and planned way, which is conducive to the peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” the joint statement said.
The joint statement came ahead of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) meet in Uzbekistan next week which Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to attend. India and China have been tilting towards Russia since the Ukraine war had pitted Putin against the West.
The statement did not specify whether any terms and conditions had been laid down by the Chinese troops or whether a “buffer zone” had been created as part of the disengagement process.
In the past, there has been “partial” disengagement from the Galwan Valley, the Pangong Lake and Gogra by creating a demilitarised “buffer zone” with the Chinese stepping back a few kilometres while allegedly still remaining within India-claimed lines.
The Chinese are yet to disengage from the strategic Depsang Plains where the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is said to be entrenched 18km inside India-claimed lines.
Military veteran and former Ladakh corps commander Lt Gen Rakesh Sharma said in a tweet: “…What does disengagement imply? How much distance is the patrolling moratorium along Kurang Nallah at PP15? It is, however, a significant step forward.”
The Chinese PLA has opened several fronts since April 2020 in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control and is estimated to have taken over nearly 1,000sqkm of India-claimed territory.
The tension between the two sides escalated manifold after the Galwan Valley clashes in which 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese soldiers were killed.