New Delhi: Chinese and Indian militaries continued to pull back armoured elements and thinning down of troops in areas around Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh as part of an agreement reached between the two sides on the disengagement process, military sources said on Friday.
While armoured elements like battle tanks and armoured personnel carriers are being withdrawn from friction points in the south bank of Pangong Tso, troops are being pulled back from the north bank areas, they said.
The sources said withdrawal of armoured elements from the south bank of Pangong Tso is almost complete and temporary structures erected by both sides will be demolished in the next few days.
“The disengagement process will take time as both sides are together carrying out verification of the withdrawal of troops and military hardware,” said a source.
The disengagement of troops and armoured elements is limited to the friction points where the two sides were on an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation, sources said.
After a nine-month standoff, the two militaries reached the agreement on disengagement in the north and south banks of Pangong lake that mandates both sides to cease forward deployment of troops in a “phased, coordinated and verifiable” manner.
On Thursday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made a detailed statement in Parliament on the disengagement pact.
According to the agreement, China has to pull back its troops to east of Finger 8 areas in the northern bank while the Indian personnel will be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3 in the region.
Similar action will take place on the south bank of the lake as well, Singh said in Parliament.
Last year, the Chinese military built several bunkers and other structures in the areas between Finger 4 and 8 and had blocked all Indian patrols beyond Finger 4, triggering strong reaction from the Indian Army.
In the nine rounds of military talks, India was specifically insisting on withdrawal of Chinese troops from Finger 4 to Finger 8 on the North bank of Pangong Lake.
The mountain spurs in the area are referred to as Fingers.
The sources said following completion of the disengagement process, the two sides will hold talks on the de-escalation process.
They said field commanders of both the armies have been holding talks on a daily basis in the last few days to coordinate the disengagement process.
The defence minister said the implementation of the pact started on Wednesday and it was agreed to convene the next meeting of senior commanders of both sides within 48 hours of completion of the disengagement in the Pangong lake area so as to resolve all other remaining issues.
On Friday, the defence ministry said other outstanding “problems” including in Depsang, Hot Springs and Gogra will be taken up at the upcoming talks between military commanders of the two countries.