New Delhi: Chinese and Indian troops on Thursday completed their initial phase of disengagement from all flashpoints by moving back from Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Hot Springs and Gogra Post.
Sources said the Chinese troops moved back from Finger 4 to Finger 5 in Pangong Tso Thursday evening but are still occupying ridges in the area. Chinese soldiers could also move out of the ridges Friday. Indian troops also moved back and are not holding Finger 4.
How much Indian troops have moved back couldn’t be confirmed, but some suggested “we have moved back till Finger 3”. If that is so, it will be a setback as the Chinese were already occupying territory claimed by India. India says its territory is till Finger 8.
In May, Chinese troops occupied the area between Finger 4 to Finger 8 and prevented Indian troops from patrolling the area. The Chinese PLA still needs to vacate the area between Finger 5 to Finger 8 even after Thursday's pullback.
India and China are due to hold diplomatic talks on disengagement and de-escalation on Friday, and an official said by moving out of Pangong Tso, the Chinese have basically prepared the ground for the meeting. In Gogra Post too, the Chinese troops completed the disengagement Thursday and the verification by Indian forces is going on. In Galwan Valley and Hot Springs, the Chinese troops have moved back 2 km.
The corps commanders from both sides are due to meet again next week on how to take the disengagement further, and Friday’s virtual meet between Naveen Srivastava, MEA joint secretary (East Asia), and a Chinese official will set the agenda for the corps commanders’ meeting.
The next step will be to move out forces from the depth areas and the final step will be to restore the status quo as of April 2020.