Nine months since they first got into an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation in east Ladakh, armoured units of the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) started withdrawing from north and south banks of the frozen Pangong Tso on Wednesday morning, paving a way for peace and tranquillity to be restored all along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
By Thursday, PLA had withdrawn more 200 main battle tanks from the south banks of Pangong Tso and had positioned no less than 100 heavy vehicles to ferry its troops from fingers on north banks to Srijap sector, east of Finger 8.
The speed of Chinese withdrawal has actually surprised the Indian army brass and national security planners.
After nine rounds of talks, India and China have decided to disengage and the pullback from the frontline in Ladakh will be mutual and in a phased manner, China and India have said separately.
China said on Wednesday that the rival armies have started withdrawing.
China’s Defense Ministry announced that based on an agreement reached in January, their front-line troops started disengagement on Wednesday.
It said China hopes “the Indian side will work with China to meet each other halfway” and “ensure the smooth implementation of the disengagement process.”
In Delhi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told Rajya Sabha on Thursday that both armies agreed to pullback forces in a “phased, coordinated and verifiable manner”.
The consensus on disengagement was reached in areas north and south banks of Pangong Tso.
Singh told the parliament that Chinese army will move its forces to the east of Finger 8 on the north bank, and the Indian Army will move to their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3.
Both the sides have agreed to “temporarily suspend their regular patrolling activities on the north bank”.
Within 48 hours of “full disengagement” in these areas, Singh said senior Indian and Chinese commanders will meet again to discuss further disengagement at other friction points.