Galwan Valley: Disengagement

Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Ladakh and several high-level engagements with China, Indian Army sources said that Chinese troops have withdrawn by at least a kilometre from the disputed region in the Galwan Valley and two other points of conflict along the Line of Actual Control. Sources said that the Chinese have begun retreating from Indian territory and temporary structures and tents built by them have also been removed.

Army sources said that it has been confirmed after verification that the ‘disengagement with China’s People’s Liberation Army has started as per agreed terms in the Corps Commander’s meeting.’ The Chinese troops were seen removing tents and structures at the site of the deadly Galwan Valley clash in which 20 Indian soldiers died, and also in two other conflict areas at Hot Springs and Gogra. Officials said that there is indication that China has begun de-escalating from the Fingers region of Galwan. India too has removed its structures from the river-bend embankment creating a buffer zone.

The move comes a day after talks were held between special representatives of India and China on Sunday. Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor of India and Wang Yi, Chinese State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs, in a telephonic conversation had a ‘frank and in-depth exchange of views on the recent developments in the western sector of the India-China border areas’, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Monday.

The two special representatives agreed that ‘both sides should take guidance from the consensus of the leaders that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas was essential for the further development of our bilateral relations and that two sides should not allow differences to become disputes.’ “Therefore, they agreed that it was necessary to ensure at the earliest complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquillity. In this regard they further agreed that both sides should complete the ongoing disengagement process along the LAC expeditiously,” an official statement by the MEA read.

It was also agreed that both the sides should ensure a ‘phased and stepwise de-escalation’ along the border and that they should ‘strictly respect and observe’ the LAC and not take any ‘unilateral action to alter the status quo and work together to avoid any incident in the future that could disturb peace and tranquillity in border areas.’ Diplomatic and military officials of the two sides are expected to continue their discussions, including under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China border affairs (WMCC), and implement the understandings reached in a timely manner to achieve the above outcomes.

China’s official spokesperson in the Foreign Ministry Zhao Lijian confirmed the developments in a simultaneous statement in Beijing. “Troops are taking effective measures to disengage and ease the tensions,” Lijian said.

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