NEW DELHI: The high-powered China Study Group (CSG) on Tuesday discussed the future strategy to tackle the continuing military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh, with the People’s Liberation Army yet to complete troop disengagement at Pangong Tso and Gogra as well as pullback from the Depsang Plains.
“Sustained political-diplomatic intervention” will be required for concrete progress in the sequential process of disengagement on the north bank of Pangong Tso and Patrolling Point-14 at Gogra, followed by de-escalation and eventual de-induction of the over 30,000 troops each amassed by both sides along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, say sources.
The three-hour meeting of the CSG, attended by defence minister Rajnath Singh, foreign minister S Jaishankar, national security advisor Ajit Doval and Army chief General M M Naravane, reviewed the fifth round of talks between the rival corps commanders on Sunday.
At the over 10-hour long meeting between 14 Corps commander Lt-General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin on Sunday, India reiterated its demand for completing the disengagement at Pangong Tso and PP-14 in Gogra, as was earlier reported by TOI.
“Though China says it agrees in principle for the need to disengage, there is concern about whether the PLA will actually pull back to ‘Finger-8’ and also vacate the ridgelines, and in what timeframe, after reneging on its earlier commitment,” said a source.
The PLA till now has refused to withdraw eastwards from the 8-km stretch it has occupied from `Finger-4’ to `Finger-8’ (mountainous spurs jutting into the lake) after building scores of new fortifications and gun positions on the north bank of Pangong Tso since early-May.
The Indian Army, in any case, is prepared to remain forward deployed through the coming winter. The massive “advance winter stocking” for rations and other essential supplies as well as construction of insulated habitats for troops and procurement of specialized winter clothing and other personal gear is already well underway, as was reported by TOI earlier.
The PLA also remains inflexible about its deep intrusion into what India considers its territory in the strategically-located Depsang-Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) sector. PLA troops, camping near the “Bottleneck” area in the Depsang area,have been blocking Indian soldiers from going to their traditional PPs-10, 11, 12 and 13 for around three months now.


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