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India and China on the brink of troop withdrawal from Pangong Tso-Chushul area | India News

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NEW DELHI: India and China have generally agreed to withdraw troops, tanks, howitzers and armored vehicles from “friction points” in the Pangong Tso-Chushul area of ​​eastern Ladakh, in a major step towards defusing tension. seven months. military confrontation in the high altitude region.
The “exact modalities and sequence of steps”, as well as the joint verification process for this proposed separation plan, are now being “discussed and finalized” by the two armies as a follow-up to the eighth round of commander-level talks of the United States. body from November 6, sources said Wednesday.
According to the plan, the withdrawal is likely to start from the north bank of Pangong Tso, where the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has occupied and fortified the 8 km stretch from “Finger-4 to 8” (mountain spurs) “from Begginings of may.
The PLA troops will retreat to their positions east of Finger-8, while the Indian soldiers will retreat west to their post at Dhan Singh Thapa between Finger-2 and Finger-3. It will be done in a staggered manner, with one third of the rival troops withdrawing at each stage.
The stretch between Finger-4 and Finger 8 is likely to be designated as a “no patrol zone” for the foreseeable future, although according to India the Line of Control (LAC) runs north to south on Finger-8.
At the same time, the two armies are also scheduled to withdraw their tanks and other heavy weapons to “depth zones” from their current outpost locations on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso-Kailash mountain range in the Chushul sector to avoid ” any inadvertent vertical climbing. ” . The final phase will involve rival troops leaving the previously unoccupied heights of Chushul.
Opposing military build-ups on the strategically located Depsang Plains, where Chinese soldiers have been preventing Indian troops from going to their traditional patrol points for more than six months, will be addressed separately at a later stage.
“Depsang is an old problem. The first priority is the flash points in the Pangong Tso-Chushul area. The time-limited disconnection process can begin within this month if modalities are finalized, either through ongoing daily telephone conversations or another round of conversations at the corps commander level, “said a source.
Army chief Gen. MM Naravane made clear Tuesday that a mutually acceptable withdrawal plan is in the offing, in line with “blanket” political directives issued after the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers met. met in Moscow in September, as reported. by TOI.
The onset of the brutal winter, which is taking a toll on the thousands of rival soldiers deployed at altitudes of more than 4,500 meters, also appears to have made China “more willing” to reduce escalation.
Indian military commanders, however, are proceeding with “great caution” due to the huge deficit of confidence after a previous withdrawal plan failed in the Galwan Valley, where 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers died in clashes on June 15. It has also been argued that Indian troops should not be left in a tactically disadvantageous situation during a mutual pushback.
After being surprised by the PLA on the north shore of Pangong Tso in May, Indian troops carried out a proactive military maneuver to occupy the ridge line that runs from Thakung on the south shore to Gurung Hill, Spanggur Gap, Magar Hill, Mukhpari, Rezang La and Reqin La (Rechin mountain pass) from August 29 to 30.
These six-seven heights make it possible for Indian troops to monitor the PLA garrison, positions and roads in Moldo, and has served as an “effective back pressure point” for influence in the talks. The PLA, of course, is also positioned on the Helmet Top, Yellow Bump and Black Top features throughout the LAC, with cameras in position to monitor the activities of the Indian soldiers.
The jostling at this height had caused rival troops to exchange at least four warning shots, for the first time in 45 years, between August 29 and September 8.
As of now, an uneasy calm prevails in eastern Ladakh, although 50,000 soldiers from each of the two armies, backed by howitzers, tanks and surface-to-air missile systems, remain deployed in the high-altitude region.

Times of India

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