With China wanting a reciprocal pull back in Pangong, India now looks at a “prolonged” standoff. An official document, which had acknowledged Chinese intrusion into India in May, has also been removed from the Ministry of Defence website

Describing the Chinese aggression in Ladakh as “transgressions”, India has said the standoff is likely to be “prolonged” amid China’s demand for India to move back further in the region along Pangong Lake.

With the disengagement process stuck, the Ministry of Defence had earlier this week put out a note on its official website in which it referred to the Chinese aggression as "transgression" for the first time.

In an unprecedented move, the Ministry of Defence document, admitting Chinese intrusion into Indian territory in May, was removed from the official website on Thursday following a political controversy.

Chinese ‘Transgression’

Chinese intrusions are often loosely referred to as transgression — a word that is defined in the dictionary as an act or process of breaking a law or moral rule.

Transgression is also defined as infringement or violation of a law, command, or duty.

The Ministry of Defence note on its website read: “Chinese aggression has been increasing along LAC and more particularly in Galwan Valley since May 5, 2020. The Chinese transgressed in areas of Kungrang Nala, Gogra and Pangong Tso on May 17-18,”

This official document has been removed from the website of the Ministry of Defence.

This was later removed from the Ministry of Defence website following a political controversy after Rahul Gandhi once again questioned the government over the standoff.

Stalled Disengagement

China’s condition that it will pull back from the Finger area of the lake but the move should be reciprocated by India has made the situation complex in Ladakh, sources have said.

In the initial phase of disengagement at Pangong Lake, the Chinese moved back from Finger 4 to Finger 5, but continued with its deployment on the ridge line.

India too pulled back from Finger 4 where troops from both sides had been in an eyeball to eyeball situation. The mountain spurs jutting out into the lake are referred as fingers in military parlance.

Between Finger 5 and 8, China has strengthened its positions, brought in more boats and also set up new pre fabricated huts keeping in mind a winter deployment.

“China has been demanding that India moves back further in Pangong Lake if it wants China to pull back. This has the made the situation more tricky as a further retreat by India would mean leaving an area under our control. This would change the status quo,” said an official.

‘Standoff Likely To Continue’

In the fifth round of Corps Commander-level talks on Sunday, situation in Pangong Lake, the biggest flashpoint in the three-month-old standoff was the main focus.

“While engagement and dialogue at military and diplomatic level is continuing to arrive at mutually acceptable consensus the present standoff is likely to be prolonged,” the MoD note read.

The MoD note added that the situation in eastern Ladakh arising from unilateral aggression by China continues to be sensitive and requires close monitoring and prompt action based on evolving situation.

While initial disengagement took place in Galwan and Patrol Point 15, Pangong Lake and Gogra continue to be volatile.

Even after the fifth round of Corps Commander-level talks, disengagement between Indian and Chinese troops has not been satisfactory at Pangong Lake and Depsang, sources have said.

Sources say there is no question of diluting the Indian stand.

“Future strategy to plan for the winter depot as the situation is likely to be a lingering one is being planned,” said an official.

A meeting to review discussions that took place in Moldo during the military commanders’ talks was held in Delhi on Tuesday.

This was attended by the members of China Study Group headed by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar were also part of the discussions.

The fifth round of Corps Commander-level talks took place on August 2 and with no immediate breakthrough future planning keeping in mind a winter deployment has started.