China laying optical fibre cables to 'bolster' communications in Ladakh: Report
China laying optical fibre cables to 'bolster' communications in Ladakh: Report

Finally, there is some sign of thaw in India-China frosty ties and, if media sources are to be trusted, the two sides have readied a three-phase plan for disengagement in eastern Ladakh.

The contours of the disengagement are yet to crystallise but there are indications that it may entail pulling back of tanks and armoured personnel carriers from close to the Line of Actual Control.

Also, the Chinese would return to the Finger 8 region on the North Bank of the Pangong Lake, vacating their existing positions. India would reciprocate by returning to its pre-existing position prior to when the tension began.

However, as is often the case, the movement on the ground cannot begin unless there is a signed agreement between the two sides on the logistics of the retreat. Nor have the two forces agreed on a timeline within which such a retreat from the existing positions is to be accomplished. Another critical area is the verification of the disengagement process by both the sides.

Nonetheless, sources said both the Indian Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army are looking at sealing the pact in the next round of Corps Commander-level talks. The ninth round of military talks are likely to take place in the next few days.

Nearly 50,000 Indian Army troops are currently deployed in a high state of combat readiness in various mountainous locations in eastern Ladakh in sub-zero conditions.

China has also deployed an equal number of troops, according to officials. The standoff between the two sides erupted in early May.

As a first step, both sides will remove their tanks, artillery guns, armoured vehicles and large equipment from the friction points along the LAC to their rear bases within three days from inking the agreement, the sources said.

Under the second step, the PLA will go back to Finger 8 areas from their current position of Finger 4 on the north bank of Pangong Lake while the Indian troops would position themselves close to the Dhan Singh Thapa post. The mountain spurs in the area are referred to as Fingers.

It was also broadly agreed to withdraw around 30 per cent of the troops every day for three days.

In the third step, it was agreed to complete the disengagement process in areas along the southern bank of Pangong Lake like Rezang La, Mukhpari and Magar hill.

Indian troops are occupying a number of strategic heights in the Mukhpari, Rezang La and Magar hill areas around the southern bank of the lake. "These are all proposals. There is no agreement signed yet," said a high-level source, adding a bit of the scepticism to the gameplan.


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