New Delhi: In the first sign of de-escalation of tension in eastern Ladakh, the Chinese Army has removed tents and started to withdraw its troops from Galwan Valley as decided during high-level talks between the two militaries, government sources said on Monday.
Galwan Valley was the site of a violent hand-to-hand clash between the two militaries on June 15 that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.
China’s People’s Liberation Army was seen removing tents and structures at patrolling point 14, the sources said, adding rearward movement of vehicles of Chinese troops was seen in the general area of Galwan and Gogra Hot Springs.
They said disengagement of Chinese troops in the area has begun as per decisions arrived at during the Corps Commander-level talks.
The sources said there was clear sign of withdrawal of structures and troops from the patrolling point 14 in Galwan Valley and that they are likely to move back more than a kilometre in the area.
The sources said it would not be possible to know immediately how much distance the Chinese troops are going back and that there will be clarity only after a proper verification process is conducted.
The clashes in Galwan Valley took place after Indian troops strongly opposed the erection of a surveillance post by the Chinese side near patrolling point 14.
It is not immediately known whether the de-escalation initiative has also been started in the Pangong Tso area where the Chinese side has significantly enhanced its presence, particularly in areas between Finger 4 and Finger 8.
On June 30, the Indian and Chinese armies held the third round of Lt General-level talks during which both sides agreed on an “expeditious, phased and step wise” de-escalation as a “priority” to end the standoff.
The first round of the Lt General talks were held on June 6 during which both sides finalised an agreement to disengage gradually from all the standoff points beginning with Galwan Valley.
However, the situation deteriorated following the Galwan Valley clashes as the two sides significantly bolstered their deployments in most areas along the LAC.
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to Ladakh during which he said the era of expansionism is over and that the history is proof that “expansionists” have either lost or perished, in comments which were seen as a clear message to China that India is not going to backoff and would deal with the situation with a firm hand.
The Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for the last seven weeks.
The tension escalated manifold after killing of 20 Indian soldiers in Galwan Valley. The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to give out the details.
Both sides have held several rounds of diplomatic and military talks in the last few weeks to ease tension.
Following the Galwan Valley clashes, the Army has sent thousands of additional troops to forward locations along the border besides moving in heavy weapons.