Springing in a major development amid longstanding Indo-Sino tensions, India and China have agreed upon a three-step disengagement plan. The plan talks of disengaging troops from parts of Eastern Ladakh sector and moving back to their respective positions before April-May timeframe earlier this year, news agency ANI said in a report.
As per the disengagement plan, discussed during the 8th Corps Commander-level talks held on November 6 in Chushul, the process would be carried out in three steps. The armoured vehicles including tanks and armoured personnel carriers were to be moved back from their frontline deployment to a significant distance from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by both sides, ANI quoted sources as saying. It said that the disengagement of tanks and armoured personnel carriers was to be carried out within a day.
In the second step towards disengagement, both sides were supposed to withdraw around 30 per cent of troops every day for three days, near the northern bank on the Pangong Lake. The report said that the Indian side would come close to its administrative Dhan Singh Thapa post at No. 2 at Pangong Tso while the Chinese agreed to go back to their position east of Finger 8 from Finger 4.
In the final stage, the Indian and Chinese troops were to withdraw from their respective positions from the frontline along the southern bank of Pangong Lake area which includes the heights and territories around Chushul and Rezang La area. Further, the report mentioned that the two sides agreed on a joint mechanism to verify the progress in the disengagement process through delegation meetings as well as using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
The two sides have agreed to move back tanks and artillery from Chushul-Moldo sector to avoid any face off condition and also mutual aggression.
Even as a plan has been agreed on, India is treading cautiously as there is trust deficit particularly after the Galwan valley clash that claimed 20 Indian soldiers in June this year.
India and China are locked in an over five-month-long bitter standoff in eastern Ladakh that has significantly strained the ties of the two nations. Both sides have held a series of diplomatic and military talks to resolve the issue so far. However, no breakthrough has been achieved to end the standoff.
(With inputs from India TV's Manish Prasad)