NEW DELHI: With disengagement at Pangong Lake underway, the focus will now shift to pulling back troops from standoff points in Galwan valley and the Gogra post, both of which saw a substantial build-up since May last year after Chinese forces moved in.
After the Pangong process is completed, the two sides will move to implement the second stage of the disengagement plan by moving troops away from each other at these two locations, sources have told ET. At Galwan, where a deadly clash last June claimed heavy losses on both sides, the Chinese deployment at the moment is well beyond the contended Patrolling Point 15, but further retreat is set to take place. As per discussions, Indian and Chinese troops will pull back up to 2 km each from PP 15 and will suspend patrolling till further notice. Sources indicate that troops are positioned just over a kilometre away in the valley at present.
At Gogra post, where the Chinese moved in a substantial amount of armoured units close to an Indian post, a similar process will take place. A squadron of armoured combat vehicles are currently in a standoff with a similar Chinese force and the plan here is also to create a 4 km zone, with both sides retreating to their sides of the Line of Actual Control.
The creation of a four kilometre zone where patrolling will be suspended, sources said, is a temporary arrangement and is in no way admission to territorial claims. The Indian position is clear that normal patrolling will resume after further rounds of talks to defuse the current crisis.
Sources said that there have been no substantial discussion with China on the Depsang plains deployment where PLA has been blocking Indian troops from accessing three patrolling points on LAC. As per internal assessments, the situation at Depsang is stable and in India’s favour, given a heavy deployment of tanks, armoured vehicles and soldiers that are more than a match for Chinese forces in the area.