India, China Disengage Troops in Gogra

India and China have ceased forward deployments in the Gogra area. All infrastructure and temporary structures have been dismantled and both sides have move back troops to their permanent bases, taking another step towards disengagement of troops on the Ladakh border. The disengagement was carried out over Wednesday and Thursday, the Army said.

Plans to disengage at Patrolling Point 17A were finalised during the last round of Corps Commander talks on July 31, marking another easing of tensions since February, when the Pangong Tso area was vacated.

“Both sides agreed on disengagement in the area of Gogra. The troops in this area have been in a face-off situation since May last year. As per the agreement, both sides have ceased forward deployments in this area in a phased, coordinated and verified manner,” the Army said.

It added that the agreement ensures that the Line of Actual Control in Gogra will be strictly observed and respected by both sides, and that there is no unilateral change in status quo. “All temporary structures and other allied infrastructure created in the area by both sides have been dismantled and mutually verified. The landform in the area has been restored by both sides to pre-stand off period,” the Army statement on Gogra disengagement said.

With this disengagement, Chinese troops have moved back from three of the four areas they had deployed forces, including tanks and armoured personnel carriers, in May 2020. The Galwan valley disengagement took place in June last year while Pangong Tso was resolved in February. A small PLA deployment still remains at Patrolling Point 15 at Hot Springs but officials say that it is likely to be resolved too in coming talks.

The Army has said that both sides have resolved to take talks forward and resolve remaining issues on the border as well. “With this one more sensitive area of face-off has been resolved. Both sides have expressed commitment to take the talks forward and resolve the remaining issues along the LAC in the Western Sector,” the statement said.

Among other areas, the PLA had moved in over 1,500 troops last year at PP 17A. A previous round of disengagement at Gogra took place after the deadly Galwan valley clash last year but the PLA retained a smaller detachment of troops at LAC, a deployment that has been mirrored by the Indian side.

The situation at Depsang plains, where the PLA has been blocking Indian patrols but has no permanent deployment on the Indian side of the LAC, is being dealt with separately, given that disagreements and faceoffs have been occurring there since 2013. A minor issue also exists at the Charding Nalla at Demchok in the south over two tents pitched by so called civilians on disputed territory since 2018.

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