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India-China complete troop pull-back from friction point PP-15 in Eastern Ladakh

This completes disengagement from all 4 post-May 2020 military flashpoints on the LAC, setting the stage for Modi-Xi talks at Samarkand

Photo Credit : Indian Army


Representational photo of Indian and Chinese troops on the unresolved Line of Actual Control

India and China on September 13 completed troop disengagement from Patrolling Point-15 in the Gogra-Hot Springs area of Eastern Ladakh, one of the flash points on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) since May 2020, when the Chinese PLA advanced in an attempt to alter the status quo on the disputed mountainous boundary.

The two sides have also completed the verification of each other’s pullback and the dismantling of infrastructure built during the face-off, according to Government sources. 

This troop pullback from one of the contentious points on the LAC appears to set the stage for a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting at Samarkand in Uzbekistan on September 15-16. 

The mutual pullback from PP-15 completes the resolution of the post-May 2020 friction points. The focus in the ongoing 28-month military confrontation in Eastern Ladakh now shifts to the more pressing challenge at the Depsang Plains and Demchok, where the PLA is reportedly blocking Indian patrols at five points. The Depsang and Demchok incursions by the Chinese pre-date May 2020. 

No-patrol buffer zones have been created around PP-14 (Galwan Valley), PP-17A (Gogra) and Finger Points along the banks of the Pangong Lake after troop disengagement by the two sides. It has taken 16 rounds of military talks at the level of Corps Commander for pullbacks from these four flashpoints.

A concern expressed by some in the strategic community is that these buffer zones have come up on the Indian side of the LAC, converting Indian territory into No Man’s Land. 

For instance, Indian troops can no longer patrol up to a 10-km stretch between Finger Points 3 and 8 (mountain spurs) on the north bank of Pangong Lake, even though the Indian position is that the LAC runs through Finger 8. Post the disengagement talks with the Chinese, Indian troops withdrew westwards to the Dhan Singh Thapa post between Fingers 2 and 3 in February last year, while the Chinese pulled back from Finger 4 to Sirijap east of Finger 8.