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Army aims to restore patrolling rights at Despang during Sino-India disengagement talks

Army reiterates that talks must entail the restoration of patrolling points that existed before the 2020 Galwan Valley clash.

NEW DELHI: The Indian Army has put its foot down over the restoration of patrolling rights as the talks between India and China are underway for troop disengagement in eastern Ladakh both at the diplomatic and military levels.

Sources said on Tuesday that the Indian stance on the standoff points has remained consistent, i.e. restoration of status quo ante as on April 2020. “This entails the restoration of patrolling rights to the traditional patrolling points,” said multiple sources.

The 18th round of Senior Highest Military Commander Level (SHMCL) talks were conducted at the Chushul-Moldo meeting point, on the Chinese side, on April 23 this year.

The “friction” caused by the standoff between the ground forces of the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) remains at two friction points — Depsang and Demchok.

The technical term for the corps commander talks is interactions at the Senior Highest Military Commander Level (SHMCL). Talks at the SHMCL levels took place for the first time on June 6, 2020.

The Indian side emphasized that the process of disengagement from Galwan, Gogra, Hotsprings and the north and south banks of Pangong Tso does not change India’s claim over the alignment of the LAC.

“All disengagements carried out earlier also have been done on the basis of mutual security with no prejudice to LAC claims by either side,” said a source.

But the standoff at Depsang is of much significance where the Chinese troops have blocked access to five patrolling points — 10, 11, 11A, 12, and 13. The area out of access, as per the sources, is around 952 sq km.

The five patrolling points, which are located east of the strategic Sub-Sector North road, are close to the LAC, but not located right at the LAC but are located inside the line that marks the Indian territory.

The Sub-Sector North, of which Depsang is a part, is strategically most important. The terrain is such that a large-scale armour operation is possible. China has multiple roads feeding this area while India has only the DSDBO Road.

Depsang is also a link to Siachen and the Daulat beg Oldie (DBO) Airfield. The crucial Y Junction is about 20 km from the DBO. The Patrolling points are identified and marked on the LAC where regular patrolling is done to assert the claim about the LAC.

Tension prevails along the LAC in eastern Ladakh with more than 50, 000 soldiers from each side amassed with heavy equipment like missiles, artillery, and tanks with air power being kept ready.

 

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