The third day of disengagement—which follows a detailed plan chalked out by respective military commanders—went by with clockwork precision with frontline troops reducing presence at forward posts created after May last year when China tried to alter the status quo on the LAC. Sources said all tanks and armoured fighting vehicles deployed at close range have been moved back to permanent bases by both sides.
Officials said that complete disengagement at Pangong is likely to be achieved by next week as not just troops but military structures too have to be dismantled. This includes hutments and shelters for soldiers deployed at high altitude posts on the southern bank in Chushul.
This would also be a mammoth task for China, which had created hundreds of structures in the Finger area on the north bank of Pangong Tso, including artillery positions, heavy machine gun nests, fortified bunkers and command posts for its soldiers.
However, given its superior infrastructure on the border, which includes quick access roads for large vehicles including tank transporters, it is expected that the PLA will be able to meet the timelines drawn up for the withdrawal process. Indian troops are still maintaining a presence at strategic heights in Chushul on the Kailash range but their numbers will be thinning down as the Chinese progressively retreat east of Finger 8 to positions they have been occupying since the 1962 war. There has been no additional activity on the other friction points of Gogra, Galwan and Depsang as the disengagement process is underway, officials said. Troops at these points are maintaining their positions and the next steps will be taken after a further round of military commander talks. These talks are scheduled to take place within 48 hours of the completion of the Pangong Tso disengagement.