With the two flag meetings with Chinese commanders failing to resolve the stand-off with People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troopers in Ladakh, the Centre has turned to pro-active diplomatic efforts to settle the issue.
As part of it, New Delhi has asked the China Study Group (CSG), comprising secretaries of Defence, Home and External Affairs Ministries apart from the Army vice chief, to carry on with serious diplomatic efforts through the foreign office. It has also directed the Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) not to talk much on the matter, government sources said here on Friday.
The Indian Army has given at least five options to the CSG to exercise, to resolve the row with the Chinese in an amicable manner. Over 30 PLA troopers had ventured into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Debsang bulge near Daulat Beg Oldi in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir and pitched tents there on April 15. Since then, they have refused to move out of the area, forcing the ITBP and Army’s Ladakh Scouts men to respond by pitching a tent of their own around 200 metres away. Even as this ‘face-to-face’ posturing continued, New Delhi held two flag meetings with the PLA at the level of Brigadiers on April 18 and 23, but they did not yield any favourable result. The Chinese side had at the meetings demanded Indian Army to dismantle some of its bunkers and infrastructure along the LAC.
Government sources told Express that there was no effort to ask for a third flag meeting and ruled out the possibility of such a meeting in the near future, as diplomatic efforts were now on between New Delhi and Beijing, to revert back to the pre-April 15 positions on either side of the LAC.
Defence Minister A K Antony, who was briefed on the situation by Army chief General Bikram Singh on Thursday, told reporters outside Parliament on Friday that negotiations and consultations were in progress at various levels to find a peaceful solution to the row. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had only a day earlier asserted in Kazakhstan’s Almaty that India was ‘not a pushover’ and that the PLA’s latest transgression into Ladakh would be resolved before he visits Beijing on May 9.
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma on Friday presented a written note on the crisis to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence that met here to consider the ministry’s demands for grants. The meeting did not discuss the Debsang bulge situation, as demanded by the BJP members Prakash Javadekar and Muktar Abbas Naqvi through a letter to the committee chairman and Congress Lok Sabha MP Raj Babbar, with the MoD officials saying they were not yet ready. “The issue will be discussed in detail in the meeting next month,” they informed