India and China have reached an agreement for disengagement at southern and northern banks of Pangong Tso Lake, defence minister Rajnath Singh said in a statement in the parliament today. He said that during the ninth round of corps commander-level military talks, it had been decided that both the sides will remove forward deployments in a phased and coordinated manner.
Rajnath said that India had always emphasised on maintaining bilateral ties and was committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LoAC). Singh said both sides had agreed that complete disengagement under bilateral pacts and protocol should be done at the earliest.
Rajnath told the Rajya Sabha that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will pull back to east of Finger 8 and Indian Army will move to its permanent base near Finger 3. The commanders of both sides will hold a meeting following the completion of disengagement in the Pangong Tso area, Singh said.
The defence minister Rajnath Singh assured the parliament that India had not lost anything and that there were still outstanding issues with deployment and patrolling along the LoAC.
India had rushed frontline tanks and armoured vehicles to the strategic heights held by its soldiers on the southern bank in September last year, in response to intimidating moves by the PLA.
Rajnath Singh’s remarks come a day after the Chinese defence ministry said that both sides had begun disengaging on the southern and northern banks of Pangong Tso. Chinese defence ministry’s spokesperson Senior Colonel Wu Qian said the move was in accordance with the consensus that the two sides had reached during the meeting of military commanders held on the Chinese side of the Moldo-Chushul border meeting point on 24 January.
There was, however, no official word from the Indian side on 9 February while people familiar with the matter said that both sides had started pulling back armoured elements – tanks and infantry combat vehicles — from the heights on the southern bank of Pangong lake.
The LoAC passes through Pangong Tso, parts of which Indian and Chinese troops control. Both sides also patrol the waters of the lake in special boats.