The government said Thursday that Indian and Chinese troops have started to pull out of Patrolling Pillar 15 in the Gogra-Hotspring area of Eastern Ladakh. Since April 2020, the forces of the two countries have been facing each other in the area.
A “Joint Statement” from the Ministry of Defence said, “According to the agreement reached at the 16th round of India-China Corps Commander Level Meeting, Indian and Chinese troops in the area of Gogra-Hotsprings (PP-15) have started to pull back in a coordinated and planned way on September 8, 2022. This is good for peace and quiet in the border areas.”
On July 17, 2016, the 16th Corps Commander Level talks were held on the Indian side of the Chushul-Moldo border.
With the end of fighting at PP 15, all fighting between the two countries has stopped in the area. This includes the North and South banks of the Pangong Tso, as well as PP 14, PP 15, and PP 17A. But there are still some disagreements between the two countries about the border, and Chinese forces have still blocked Indian forces from getting to their traditional patrolling areas on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Depsang Plains and Charding Nala regions.
After the 12th Corp Commander Level meeting in August of last year, the last time the forces of the two countries stopped working together was at PP 17 A. Since then, the three talks at the level of corps commanders that took place before an agreement was reached at the 16th talks failed to make any progress.
In April of this year, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi went to India. Around the same time, China’s eastern neighbour sent India a proposal about pulling its troops out of Patrolling Point 15 in the Hot Spring area of Galwan in eastern Ladakh. India, on the other hand, said no after giving it some thought.
Government sources say that China suggested that the Indian troops, who have been fighting the Chinese troops at PP 15 for almost two years, move back to their Karam Singh post between PP 16 and PP 17. China, for its part, had said it would pull out its troops just behind the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which is the area claimed by India.
This wasn’t okay with India because, under this plan, Chinese troops would move back just behind PP 15, but Indian troops would have to leave even PP 16, which isn’t even in dispute.
“Since then, there have been multiple rounds of negotiations at different levels, and a formula for disengagement that works for both sides has been found,” a government source said without giving more information.
“Building on the progress made at the last meeting on March 11, 2022, the two sides continued discussions for the resolution of the relevant issues along the LAC in the Western Sector in a constructive and forward-looking way,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a “joint press release” after the 16th Corps Commander level talks. They talked openly and in depth about this, as the State Leaders had asked them to do so that they could work to solve the remaining problems as soon as possible. The two sides agreed again that resolving the remaining issues would help bring peace and quiet back to the LAC in the Western Sector and allow their relationships to move forward.
In the meantime, the statement said, the two sides had agreed to keep the security and stability on the ground in the Western Sector and to keep talking through military and diplomatic channels to find a solution to the remaining issues as soon as possible that was acceptable to both sides.
Sources say that China hasn’t come up with any good ideas for easing tensions at the last few trouble spots in eastern Ladakh, such as PP 15, Depsang plains, and Charding nala.
At PP 17 A, Indian troops have moved back to their permanent post at PP 17, which is right behind the Chinese claim line. The Chinese have moved back two kilometres north-east of PP 17 A, and the demilitarised zone will no longer be patrolled.
On March 12, the 15th round of talks between India and China at the Corps Commander level about the standoff in eastern Ladakh took place. There was no progress made at the meeting to break the deadlock.
In a joint statement that was released after the meeting, it was said that “the two sides continued their talks from the previous round” on January 12 “in order to solve important issues along the LAC in the Western Sector.” It said that both sides “agreed to keep talking through military and diplomatic channels to find a solution that works for everyone as soon as possible.”