India, China withdraw troops from Gogra Post, but no deal to end face-off at Demchok, Depsang

Apart from ceasing forward deployments, the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA dismantled all temporary structures and other allied infrastructure
Last Updated : 06 August 2021, 15:50 IST

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India and China have withdrawn front-line troops from Gogra Post in eastern Ladakh, even as the stand-off continues at several other locations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), with no agreement yet even for disengagement from Hot Springs, which too was considered a “low hanging fruit” in the negotiation between the two sides.

The troops of the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have now returned to the respective permanent bases ending the face-off at Gogra Post a.k.a ‘Patrol Point 17 A’ on the LAC – the de facto boundary between the two sides. It was the second location, where the face-off could be brought to an end, albeit almost six months after the first such disengagement took place on the northern and southern banks of Pangong Tso (Lake) between February 10 and 21.

Apart from ceasing forward deployments, the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA have on Wednesday and Thursday dismantled “all temporary structures and other allied infrastructure” they had created in and around the Patrol Point 17 A after the stand-off along the LAC started in April 2020, the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of External Affairs stated. The dismantling of infrastructure and withdrawal of troops were mutually verified by the local military commanders of the two nations. The landform in the area has been restored by the both sides to pre-April-2020 state, according to a press release issued in New Delhi on Friday. The agreement on ending the face-off at Gogra Post ensured that the LAC in the area would be “strictly observed and respected by both sides” and no attempt would be made to unilaterally change the status quo, it added.

The two sides however could not yet reach an agreement on withdrawal of troops from Hot Springs (a.k.a Patrol Point 15) area on the LAC. The Chinese PLA also continued to stall discussion with the Indian Army for disengagement in other face-off points in eastern Ladakh, like Demchok and Depsang Plains.

The two sides, however, expressed commitment to take the talks forward and resolve the remaining issues along the LAC in the Western Sector, according to the press release issued in New Delhi

After India and China pulled out troops from both the banks of Pangong Tso earlier this year, the disengagement in Gogra Post and Hot Springs were perceived to be the “low hanging fruits” for the negotiations to resolve the stand-off along the LAC. But the 11th round of talks between the military commanders of the two sides on April 9 last ended in a stalemate, which was broken only after the senior diplomats of the two sides had a video-conference on June 25 and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Dushanbe on July 14.

The senior military commanders of India and China finally had the 12th round of talks at Chushul-Moldo meeting point on the LAC on July 31. The two ides discussed a possible agreement on disengagement on Gogra and Hot Springs. But the Chinese PLA backtracked from a deal with the Indian Army on withdrawal of troops from Hot Springs and only agreed on disengagement from Gogra Post, a source in New Delhi said.

The top brass of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in New Delhi finally gave its nod for resolving the face-off at Gogra Post only, although some Indian Army officials initially had reservation about clinching yet another limited-scope deal with the Chinese PLA, without any progress in negotiation for disengagement at Hot Springs, Demchok and Depsang Plains.

Published 06 August 2021, 11:20 IST

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