The attempts to defuse the ongoing troop confrontation in the Galwan valley region between India and China are still on, with another round of major-general level talks conducted in eastern Ladakh today. This, even as Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the operational situation along the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) with the military brass in New Delhi.
The major-general level dialogue at “patrolling point 14” specifically, sources said, dealt with the de-escalation in areas of the Galwan valley and Gogra hot springs. These spots have witnessed a slight pull-back of the rival troops already as a confidence-building measure.
At this fifth round of talks at the major-general level, Leh-based 3 Infantry Division commander Major General Abhijit Bapat led the Indian delegation.
This round of talks was the easier part. The major confrontation between the two armies on the north bank of Pangong Tso demands tougher negotiations for a resolution. The lake remains deadlocked after Chinese troops occupied the entire area from mountainous spurs separated by a distance of 8 km, referred to as “Finger-4 to 8”.
The two armies are, hence, planning another meeting between 14 Corps commander Lt-General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin. This will be on the lines of the talks they had held at the Chushul-Moldo border personnel meeting (BPM) point in eastern Ladakh on 6 June.
While continuing with infrastructure development like constructing roads and bridges in its own territory, India wants restoration of status quo ante. It means India is asking China to return to its mid-April positions in all these talks, a few points at a time. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had thereafter begun its troop build-up along the LoAC. Then they intruded into Indian territory at multiple points in eastern Ladakh and the Naku La sector in north Sikkim in early-May.
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and the three Service chiefs, General MM Naravane, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and Admiral Karambir Singh attended a top-level meeting today in South Block in New Delhi. They discussed the latest assessment of the ground situation and the strategy for the LoAC.
Both India and China have, since May, moved additional troops forward all along the 3,488 km from eastern Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. The movements resembled the show of strength during the 73-day long Doklam face-off near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction in June-August 2017.
There is a difference, though. Doklam was on Bhutanese territory. The current confrontation is on Indian territory.