NEW DELHI: The Indian Army is prepared for a long haul in eastern Ladakh as the Chinese are said to be dragging their feet on disengagement from Depsang and Finger 4.
While Indian forces are ready to withdraw, “China is stuck with no response on withdrawing its forces from Depsang”, said an officer and added, “On the issue of Finger 4, also the Chinese have adopted a dithering approach”.
Adding to the standoff locations, Chinese troops have entered in Depsang Bulge and have camped at Y-junction which is an outreach point to at least five Patrolling Points for Indian troops, with each covering an area of around 15 km.
This is just 30 km from the important Daulat Beg Oldie Advanced landing Ground. The Chinese had come and camped in the area in 2013, too.
Meanwhile, the Indian forces have been made aware of the withdrawal plans and soldiers on the ground were apprised accordingly.
“Ladakh Scouts and another unit were asked to be prepared for disengagement,” said a source. Ladakh Scouts is the youngest regiment which includes soldiers from the far-flung areas of Ladakh.
This regiment is adept at mountain warfare and is meant to safeguard Ladakh frontiers with China. The plans for disengagement were initiated after the Corps Commander level talks between India and China on 22 June held at Moldo, which had led to mutual consensus to disengage.
A source who is in the loop about the talks said, “Modalities for disengagement from all friction areas in Eastern Ladakh were discussed and will be taken forward by both the sides.”
While India has informed the troops to be ready for disengagement, army officers confirmed that the “Chinese are delaying the withdrawal even from Galwan Valley as they claim to be within 800 meters inside their claim line at Patrolling Point 14”.
At present, Indian and Chinese are in standoff position at Depsang Bulge, Patrolling Points 14 and 15 in Galwan Valley, Hot Spring Sector and at Finger-4 along the northern flank of Pangong Tso.
Process to reach status quo ante to take time
The broad points agreed between Corps Commanders of the two sides are to be discussed between Division Commanders and Sector Commanders in the presence of Commanding Officers of local units.
“There has been no meeting since June 22. This whole process will take time. Even after details are thrashed out, the withdrawal will be in phases and will take time before both sides reach status quo ante,” said an officer.