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Army chief renews India’s emphasis on restoring pre-April 2020 status quo along LAC with China

The aim is to establish trust and tranquility on both sides but it cannot be a 'one-way affair', he said.
nirban Bhaumik
Last Updated : 10 May 2022, 03:26 IST
Last Updated : 10 May 2022, 03:26 IST
Last Updated : 10 May 2022, 03:26 IST
Last Updated : 10 May 2022, 03:26 IST

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India on Monday renewed its emphasis on restoring the pre-April 2020 status quo ante along its Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China even as the negotiation between the two nations to resolve the two-year-long military stand-off in eastern Ladakh remained stalled since March 11.

India’s aim and intention are to restore the status quo ante as of April 2020 along its LAC in China, Gen Manoj Pande, the new chief of the Indian Army, said. He also said that India would like to bring back the trust and tranquillity along its disputed boundary with China, but it couldn’t be a one-way affair.

Gen Pande, who took over as the new Chief of Army Staff on April 30, said that the Indian Army had a “robust posture” and “adequate forces” were available to firmly and resolutely deal with any situation along the LAC with China. He said that China’s “intent” was to keep the boundary issue with India “alive”.

The new chief of the Indian Army apparently brought back New Delhi’s emphasis on restoration of pre-April 2020 status quo ante along India-China LAC.

The stand-off had started in April-May 2020, when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had amassed a large number of troops along the disputed boundary between the two nations in eastern Ladakh – in a unilateral move to change the status quo and push the LAC, the de facto boundary, westward into the territory of India. The Indian Army had responded to the Chinese PLA’s aggressive moves with counter-deployment leading to the stand-off.

India has been accusing China of flouting bilateral agreements by amassing a large number of troops along the LAC and of making unilateral attempts to change the status quo along the line. Though restoration of the pre-April 2020 status quo was one of India’s key demands in its talks with China during the early rounds of negotiations to resolve the stand-off, New Delhi eventually stopped publicly articulating it. India already agreed with China on some adjustments to resolve the stand-off in some locations along the LAC – including a moratorium on patrolling, like in Galwan Valley soon after the violent clash on June 15, 2020, and between Finger 3 and Finger 8 on the northern bank of Pangong Tso (lake) in February 2021. The two sides also resolved the stand-off in Gogra Post in August 2021.

India, however, continued to demand that China should not make any unilateral move to change the status quo in the future. Even External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar reiterated it while interacting with media persons after his latest meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in New Delhi on March 25.

Though Gen Pande on Monday reiterated the demand for restoration of the pre-April 2020 status quo along the LAC, it is still not clear if the Indian Army would eventually seek to revisit the arrangements it worked out with the Chinese PLA in Galwan Valley or on the northern bank of Pangong Tso.

His emphasis on return to the pre-April 2020 status quo may also be limited to the Indian Army demanding that the Chinese PLA must withdraw troops deployed along and across the LAC since the beginning of the stand-off in eastern Ladakh.

The 15th round of negotiations between the military commanders of the two nations on March 11 failed to yield the much-expected deal for a mutual withdrawal of troops from Hot Springs or Patrol Point 15.

“Our troops continue to hold important positions along the LAC,” Gen Pande told journalists on Monday. “As far as the situation is concerned, guidance given to the troops is to remain firm and resolute in the task they are undertaking and prevent attempts to change the status quo”.

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Published 09 May 2022, 14:27 IST

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