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Pull back of forces from Depsang bulge could be a challenge during the India-China military negotiations in Ladakh

Disengagement at south of Pangong lake

After the smooth disengagement from the Pangong Tso area in eastern Ladakh, Indian and Chinese military commanders, during their marathon talks on Saturday have decided to work out a roadmap for pull back of troops at other friction points along the 1,597-kilometre Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.

The Hindustan Times is reporting that although the disengagement from friction points of Gogra-Hot Springs on the banks of Chang Chemmo River, a tributary of Shyok, is not expected to be contentious, pullbacks from the Depsang plain could be more problematic.

The daily pointed out that the Depsang bulge is a 2013 legacy issue with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) trying to muscle out Indian Army patrols from patrolling points 10 to 13 by blocking the ingress route at Raki and Jeevan nullah. While the Indian Army claims to be patrolling these points, Depsang is a continuous source of friction and a possible trigger to future military escalation. The Chinese want to protect the road in the Aksai Chin area that links Tibet with Xinjiang.

While the military commanders on the ground are working towards disengagement in east Ladakh, the alignment of the LAC in the western sector has been left to the special representatives of the two countries on boundary resolution. However, the Indian prerequisite to special representatives’ level dialogue is that both sides restore the status quo ante on the LAC and neither unilaterally disturbs the status quo by use of force.

India is committed to ensure that China and Pakistan is prevented from threatening the Indus and its tributaries in the Ladakh region.

Analysts say that future standoffs cannot be ruled out that as China has been unable to achieve its political objectives. There is no doubt, as Chinese state-run media had itself indicated that Beijing wanted to enforce the 1959 line, rejected by India at that time, on Ladakh as the LAC. But India’s robust political and military response successfully foiled the attempt. In fact, status quo ante, demanded by India, has been restored with both sides moving back to their fixed locations of April 2020, as part of the disengagement deal.


However, the Chinese have launched major psychological assault while the disengagement from Pangong Tso has been underway. The Chinese have released a video of Galwan valley clash of June 15, claiming the only four of its troops, compared to 20 on the Indian side, perished during the brawl.

But contrary to the Chinese assertion, Tass news agency reported earlier this week that 45 Chinese troops were killed during the encounter, where firearms were not used. Besides, India’s northern army commander Lt. Gen. YK Joshi signalled a much higher casualty figure on the Chinese side. “I don’t want to make an estimate, but when the incident happened, we were able to count a large number of casualties, which were being picked up on stretchers and taken back.

More than 60, actually, but whether they were fatal or non-fatal, we can’t say with authority so I will not give a figure,” he claimed in an interview with CNN-News18.

In a report by the military news portal Stratnewsglobal, com said that on the Indian side, not a single death occurred due to weather or health-related issues in Ladakh during the nine-month long standoff.

Strict and regular foot, towel and water parades helped.

The HT report said that even though the two sides have withdrawn their armour from the Pangong Tso, both armies will remain wary of each other as Indian troops will not forget the transgression through use of force by PLA on finger four in May 2020 and the Chinese will not forget the Indian counter on north and south banks of Pangong Tso on August 29-30. The PLA may have also learnt a lesson of high-altitude deployment and the havoc rising glacial waters of River Galwan can play on troops deployed on its banks for military operations.