Crescent Kashmir

Delhi raised Pangong, Depsang; NSA group to review

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The high-powered China Study Group (CSG), led by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, will review Tuesday the discussions held at the fifth meeting on August 2 of the Corps Commanders at Moldo on the Sino-India border and approve the next steps in the disengagement process on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.

Official sources told The Indian Express that the CSG had last met on Thursday to decide on the agenda and proposals for the August 2 meeting.

Sources said the key agenda for the Indian side was to find a way ahead for further disengagement at Pangong Tso where the Chinese have come in around 8 km to the Indian side of the LAC.

In the meeting, the Indian side is believed to have mentioned the stalling of the disengagement process and the uncooperative stance of the Chinese side at Pangong Tso.

The Chinese stance was based on the official line stated by Beijing’s envoy last Thursday during his talk at the Institute of Chinese Studies, sources added.

Sources added that the Indian side also raised the issue of Depsang plains where they have been denied access to five patrolling points. But there was little progress on this issue as the Chinese side has been insistent on the position of the LAC in Depsang alleging that Indian patrols were being stopped as they were on the Chinese side.

The principle followed for disengagement so far has been based on mutual movement backwards which meant that both sides step back from the face-off sites by an equal distance at the same time.

Even at Pangong, the Indian side stepped back towards its Dhan Singh post as the Chinese side thinned out on the northern bank from Finger 4 towards Finger 5. But there is little possibility of any further stepping back by the Indian side at Pangong where Chinese troops remain deployed on the ridge at Finger 4.

While the Indian side considers incremental progress as a positive sign, sources said that the final goal remains the restoration of status quo ante as of April.

Towards this, three conditions have to be met, sources said: withdrawal of Chinese troops from the Indian side of the LAC, removal of new infrastructure created in contentious areas after April, and restoration of patrolling rights to Indians.

Among the five friction points on the LAC in Ladakh, the two sides have disengaged from PP14 and PP15, while the troops continue to be deployed against each other at PP17A and Pangong Tso. The Indian side is also being denied access to PP10, PP11, PP11A, PP12 and PP13 in Depsang, at a place called Y-junction or Bottleneck, 18 km on the Indian side of the LAC.

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