Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday (February 11) gave keys details regarding the disengagement agreement between India and China, in the Rajya Sabha. The agreement comes in the backdrop of the India-China standoff that started in April/May of 2020 that saw the death of 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley due to aggressive actions by Chinese forces, the first such development at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) since 1975. The Chinese Defence Ministry had made the announcement on the same on Wednesday (February 10).
Here are the key details spelt out by the Defence Minister:
1) Agreement for disengagement is for “North and South Bank” of the Pangong Lake. Pangong Lake is one of the sites of the stand-off, with the north bank having eight “fingers” or geographical formations with mountains spurs jutting into the lake, and the main point of contention for New Delhi.
2) Disengagement will be “mutual and reciprocal”.
3) The implementation of this agreement started on Wednesday in the North and South Bank of the Pangong Lake. The tanks have started to move, and next up will the movement of soldiers.
4) Both sides will cease their “forward deployments” in the area. The process will take place in a “phased, coordinated and verified manner”.
5) The most crucial point and one that forms the core of the development is — The Chinese side will keep its troop presence in the North Bank area to the east of Finger 8. India, reciprocally, will base its troops at the permanent base — Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3.
6) A similar action would be taken in the South Bank area by both sides. No details are known yet on how this will happen, in terms of movements of troops.
7) Any structures that had been built by both sides since April 2020 in both North and South Bank area will be removed and the landforms will be restored. April 2020 is the month that saw China amassing its troops and trying to unilaterally change the situation.
8) Both sides have agreed on a “temporary moratorium on military activities” by both sides in the North Bank of the lake. This includes a moratorium on patrolling to the traditional areas. Patrolling will be resumed only after both sides reach an agreement during further rounds of diplomatic and military talks.
9) Once “complete disengagement” has happened at Pangong Lake, Senior Commanders of both sides will meet within 48 hours. So far nine rounds of Senior Commanders meet or military talks have taken place, the last one being in January of this year.
10) New Delhi’s message to China, by the Defence Minister from Parliament is, “By now, the Chinese side is also fully aware of our resolve. It is therefore our expectation that the Chinese side will work with us in full sincerity to resolve these remaining issues.” He highlighted, ” I want to assure this House that in these talks we have not conceded anything.”
— Some issue still remains. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “there are still some outstanding issues with regard to deployment and patrolling” at some points along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. They will be discussed during future India-China talks at the military and diplomatic level.
— India is the Chair of the BRICS grouping this year. India is expected to hold a summit, the annual BRICS summit. If the summit happens physically then Chinese President Xi Jinping will be visiting India.
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