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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Talks with China remain unsatisfactory, India plans for long haul

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Indian soldiers were outnumbered 1:5 during Galwan clashesNew Delhi, Aug 4 (IANS) As China’s commitment for disengagement at the border in Eastern Ladakh remains unsatisfactory, India has directed its armed forces to prepare for a long haul, sources said on Tuesday.

The revelation came during a review meeting on Tuesday afternoon in the South Block as deliberation took place over the fifth round of Corps Commander level talks.

The members of the China Study Group along with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar met to discuss the results of dialogue during the fifth round of Corps Commander level talks.

Sources said that Chinese disengagement plan at Pangong Lake and Depsang remains “unsatisfactory”.

It was also decided that there was no question of diluting India’s stand.

“Future strategies for disengagement at the border to be chalked out and till then forces have been told to plan for a long haul,” said a source privy to the meeting.

It was also discussed that Beijing has started troop and material build-up in depth areas across the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The fifth round of talks took place between the 14 Corps commander Lt General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin at Moldo on August 2 and it lasted for 10 hours.

India found that the Chinese side has started the build-up in three sectors of the LAC — western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal).

Intelligence agencies also alerted that China has also mobilised soldiers near Uttarakhand’s Lipulekh Pass, a tri-junction between India, Nepal and China situated atop the Kalapani Valley.

India had urged China to remove forces from Pangong Lake and Gogra where disengagement has not taken place.

At Pangong Lake, China has strengthened their positions between Finger-5 and 8, and India is to take up this move very strongly. The mountain spurs jutting into the lake are referred to as Fingers in military parlance.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has refused to pull back eastwards from the 8-km stretch it has occupied from Finger-4 to Finger-8 by building scores of new fortifications there since early May.

The Chinese troops are also in Depsang which continues to block Indian soldiers from going to their traditional patrolling in the region.

The Depsang Plains, a table-top plateau to the north of Galwan, remains a major hotspot due to its strategic location providing access to the logistical hub and airstrip at Daulat Beg Oldie and the critical Karakoram Pass in the north.

Since the PLA troops are not moving back as per consensus, the Indian Army has kicked off the massive logistical exercise for advance winter stocking with rations, specialised clothing, prefabricated shelters, Arctic tents and other equipment to maintain.

India has deployed over 35,000 troops in Ladakh.

China is not complying with the roadmap for a complete pullback that was drawn out during the Corps Commander level meet on July 14.

Till now two rounds of deliberations have taken at Moldo (China) and two in Chushul (India).

The countries are locked in a three-month-long stand-off at multiple points, hitherto unprecedented along the border.

China had changed the status quo on the LAC at various places, moving inside the Indian territories. India has objected to it and is taking up the matter with China at all levels.

The troop disengagement happened only at patrolling point-14 in Galwan Valley, the site of the June 15 clashes, and patrolling point-15 in Hot Springs.

On June 15, as many as 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed in a violent clash in the Galwan Valley.

(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at [email protected])

Source: IANS

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