A three-week long stand-off between Chinese and Indian troopers at the Daulat Beg Oldi sector of Ladakh ended suddenly on Sunday when a People’s Liberation Army platoon withdrew from the Indian territory and returned to their barracks across the Line of Actual Control in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to diplomatic and military sources, the Indian side too reciprocated the gesture of the Chinese and withdrew from the stand-off point back to their pre-April 15 positions, to ensure peace and tranquility along the Sino-Indian border.
The truce, sources said, materialised at the fourth flag meeting between the two militaries after long-drawn negotiations, at various levels.
“Intensive diplomatic contacts led by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, coordinating with military authorities and (India’s) Ambassador S Jai Shankar in Beijing led to flag meeting in which the face-to-face situation was resolved,” official sources said here late at night.
The dramatic turn of events took place around at 7.30 pm in the evening, and this came about just four days ahead of a scheduled Beijing visit by Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on May 9.
Khurshid is going to China to finalise the programme and agenda for an official visit by Chinese premier Li Keqiang scheduled for May 20.
The Chinese had pitched tents on Debsang bulge in the Daulat Beg Oldi sector of Ladakh, 19 km inside Indian territory from the Indian perception of the LAC on April 15. Indo-Tibetan Police Force (ITBP), which is responsible for the sector’s first line of defence, reciprocated the Chinese move by pitching nine tents of its own. They were joined in the tents by a platoon from the Ladakh Scouts battalion of the Indian Army.
And since then the two sides held three flag meetings to resolve the issue had failed miserably, amid indications that the Chinese were at Debsang bulge’s Raki Nullah for a long haul.
Beijing, all this while, had maintained that their troopers had not transgressed the LAC, whereas the Indian side wanted them to move back to their locations about 25 km away from the stand-off point.
Though both New Delhi and Beijing had confirmed that Khurshid will go ahead with his visit, he himself had expressed doubts over his trip in the wake of the bilateral efforts to resolve the military stand-off in Ladakh not being satisfactory.
With this the UPA Government, which has faced flak for its diplomacy ineptness over both the Chinese and Sarabjit issues, Khurshid’s China visit seems definite.