Even though the two sides have agreed on disengagement of troops at Gogra, India and China need still need to come to an agreement over some other contentious areas – Hot Springs, Depsang, and Demchok in eastern Ladakh
India and China have pulled back troops from another border location in eastern Ladakh, in what is being viewed as a positive development by analysts.
The Indian Army said on Friday that soldiers of both countries have disengaged from Gogra Post.
Gogra, or Patrolling Point 17A, was one of several friction points where troops of both nations are engaged in a standoff for the past 15 months. The disengagement, completed earlier this week, was the outcome of the 12th round of talks at the level of senior commanders held last Saturday, the Indian Army said in a note.
“As per the agreement, both sides have ceased forward deployments in this area in a phased, coordinated and verified manner. The disengagement process was carried out over two days i.e. 4 and 5 August. The troops of both sides are now in their respective permanent bases," the army said.
“This agreement ensures the LAC (Line of Actual Control) in this area will be strictly observed and respected by both sides and that there is no unilateral change in status quo," it said. “With this, one more sensitive area of face-off has been resolved. Both sides have expressed commitment to take the talks forward and resolve the remaining issues along the LAC in the Western Sector," the army said, referring to India and China disengaging troops from the banks of the Pangong Tso lake in February this year.
“The disengagement process between India and China at Gogra in eastern Ladakh, where troops are now in their respective permanent bases and landforms have been restored to pre-standoff period is a welcome step forward to restoring status quo ante in the India-China border areas," said Gautam Bambawale, former Indian ambassador to China, Pakistan and Bhutan.
Earlier in the day, media reports spoke about the creation of a buffer zone about 3km wide between Indian and Chinese troops at Gogra to ensure a reduction of tensions as the two sides discuss further disengagement and de-escalation. “I hope the momentum (created by the disengagement at Gogra) will be carried forward to other areas," said Deependra Singh Hooda, a former chief of the Indian Army’s Northern Command. He had previously overseen the security of Ladakh.
“Ultimately, while these are good steps, the de-escalation (pullback of tens of thousands of troops) will happen after disengagement is completed" at all friction points along LAC, Hooda said. “That is still long way to go," he added.
According to the army, “all temporary structures and other allied infrastructure created in the area by both sides have been dismantled and mutually verified. The landform in the area has been restored by both sides to pre-standoff period."
“The Indian Army, along with ITBP (paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police), is totally committed to ensuring the sovereignty of the nation and maintain peace and tranquillity along LAC," the statement added.
India and China have been engaged in a tense military standoff since May 2020 all along LAC in Ladakh since New Delhi first detected Chinese intrusions. Even though both sides have agreed on disengaging troops from the Gogra Post, India and China need still need to reach an agreement over some more contentious areas—Hot Springs (also known as Patrolling Point 15), Depsang and Demchok in eastern Ladakh.
“Depsang is trickier, and disengagement from the area hasn’t been discussed in detail" as yet, said Hooda.
Resolution of differences at the Depsang plains where Chinese troops have stopped Indian patrols much inside what is considered Indian territory is significant as it is situated 30km from the strategic Daulat Beg Oldie military post that houses one of the world’s highest aircraft landing strips.
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