India eyes Army talks to defuse LAC tension | India News

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NEW DELHI: India will take care to ensure that any restoration of status quo ante does not take place on China’s terms during the Lt-General-level meeting to be held on Saturday in a bid to de-escalate the month-long troop confrontation in eastern Ladakh.
India’s negotiating stand will essentially be four-pronged during the talks at the Chushul-Moldo border personnel meeting (BPM) point, with the Indian delegation led by 14 Corps commander Lt-Gen Harinder Singh crossing over to the Chinese side for the dialogue, said sources on Thursday.
India, for one, wants the two armies to mutually de-induct their troops from the four to five confrontation sites at the northern bank of Pangong Tso (Tso means lake), Gogra-Hot Springs area and Galwan Valley region as well as additional battalions, artillery guns and armoured vehicles in the “rear areas” in a phased, verifiable manner.
A major concern for India is the way the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has hardened its stance in the “Finger-1 to 8 areas” (mountainous spurs) that run west to east on the northern bank of Pangong Tso.
Though India physically controls till Finger-4, its soldiers have always patrolled up to Finger-8 in accordance with the Line of Actual Control (LAC). But since early-May, the PLA has blocked Indian patrols beyond Finger-4, while also “black-topping” an earlier makeshift track there. “The PLA must withdraw from the Finger-4 area,” said a source.
The second condition during the talks will be that China shouldn’t disrupt or impede India’s road and bridge-constructing activities in its own territory. “We will continue to build infrastructure on our side of the LAC as per plans,” said the source. It was the construction of a bridge and a couple of feeder link roads to the 255-km Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) road that was one of the triggers for the ongoing confrontation.
Three, both sides must direct their troops to maintain restraint and observe laid down protocols when their patrols come face-to-face with each other. The high-level of violence during the clash at Pangong Tso on May 5-6, when Chinese troops attacked Indian soldiers with nail-studded rods and stones, is “simply unacceptable”, said the source.
China will also have to “restore the trust deficit” that erupted after it diverted over 5,000 troops towards the LAC in eastern Ladakh from an exercise in its hinterland early last month, virtually catching the Indian Army by surprise.
But it remains to be seen “how accommodative China is” during the talks. The well-planned intrusions by a large number of PLA soldiers at multiple points across a broad frontage of the LAC, including the largely-settled Galwan Valley region, could not have taken place without the direct consent of China’s top politico-military leadership.
India, even though belatedly, more than matched China by moving forward troops of the Leh-based 3 Infantry Division (each division has 10,000-12,000 soldiers) into their “operational alert areas”, with several other battalions also being inducted into Ladakh from other areas, as was first reported by TOI on May 24.



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