Indian and Chinese armies have pulled back their artillery guns, armoured vehicles and concentrated troop formations “by about 1 to 2 km” at three of the four points of confrontation in Ladakh, military sources said.
“The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has withdrawn around 20-25 armoured vehicles , but we expect them to withdraw more, because their force and armour concentration was much thicker than ours,” said a top Indian military source. ” They intruded into these areas much before we did . Our response was merely defensive.”
Chinese troops had intruded up to 3 km across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at these four sites in late-April to early-May.
As tension mounted and the Indian army responded with forward patrols confronting them, the PLA boosted by deploying 5,000-7,000 additional troops backed by latest Type 15 tanks and artillery guns in the “rear areas” in their own area.
The spiral continued with the Indian army also matching the Chinese build-up.
” A broad agreement emerged at the June 6 senior commanders meeting at Moldoh to disengage peacefully from Galwan and Gogra-Hot Springs area. But the actual modalities will have to be worked out in future meetings,” said a senior officer.
He described the present pullback since early this week as ‘goodwill gestures’ by both armies to indicate their desire for peaceful resolution of the crisis.
A dialogue at the major-general level is likely on Thursday. Restoration of status quo ante at pre-April positions as demanded by India is not a done deal yet, but it is now possible,” the senior officer said on condition of anonymity.
The real heat is over the face-off at Pangong Tso, where the LAC runs north to south from ‘Finger 2’ to ‘Finger-8’ where both sides are unwilling to step down from their stated positions.
The senior officer told Easternlink that another meeting between 14 Corps commander Lt-General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin may needed to break the ice over Pangong Tso.
The June 6 meeting led to the Confidence Building Measures or CBMs involving “partial withdrawal” of forces by both sides, even as diplomatic channels are working to resolve the 40-day face-off by addressing broader issues.
The military-diplomatic conflict resolution process has picked up ‘steam and direction’ with China increasingly realising that the loudmouth rhetoric of retaking Aksai Chin by Home Minister Amit Shah was ‘election posturing’ and nothing more.
At both military and diplomatic levels, India has consistently emphasized the sanctity of the LAC status quo and its intent to retain it.
“The Chinese at both levels now realise we don’t want to upset the applecart and that our road-bridge building is more defensive and not offensive purposes,” a top MEA source said.
Often wrong perceptions lead to conflict but India and China seem to have displayed maturity at both levels to pull back from the brink, despite domestic jingoism on both sides.