Indian soldiers walk at the foothills of a mountain range near Leh, the joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh

The military commanders of India and China may meet again soon to follow up on the recent video conference between the diplomats of the two nations, even as hopes for an early end to the stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) are diminishing in New Delhi.

A video conference between Indian and Chinese diplomats last week saw both sides agreeing to expeditiously resolve the “outstanding issues” for completing the mutual withdrawal of front-line troops from the LAC – the de facto boundary between the two nations – in eastern Ladakh. New Delhi, however, remains cautious, as the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) over the past few weeks repeatedly declined to implement on the ground agreements reached during the talks between the senior diplomats and the military officials.

A source in New Delhi told the DH that the senior military commanders – Lt Gen Harinder Singh of the Indian Army and Maj Gen Liu Lin of the Chinese PLA – might hold a meeting at the Chushul-Moldo point on the LAC soon. The local commanders of the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA, Major General Abjijit Bapat and Senior Colonel Haan Rui, may also meet after the meeting between Lt. Gen. Singh and Maj Gen Liu, added the source, who is aware of New Delhi’s engagements with Beijing to resolve the stand-off.

The last round of talks between the senior military commanders of the two nations on August 2 failed to end the stalemate over the process of mutual withdrawal of the front-line troops of the face-off scenes along the LAC.

The Indian Army rejected the Chinese PLA’s proposal to repeat the pullback formula applied in Galwan Valley last month in the northern bank of Pangong Tso (lake) too.

The Indian Army early last month withdrew troops nearly 1.5 kilometres away from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Galwan Valley after the Chinese PLA did the same to create a “buffer zone” in order to avert a repeat of the June 15 violent face-off. It, however, rejected a similar proposal put forward by the communist country’s military recently for resolving the stand-off on the northern bank of the Pangong Tso. 

The proposal was rejected as its implementation would have required the Indian Army to vacate a critical post – named after the 1962 India-China war hero Maj Dhan Singh Thapa – near the “Finger 3” thus giving an edge to the Chinese PLA. It would have also required the PLA to pull back troops from its current position near “Finger 5” but allowed the communist country’s soldiers to continue to hold a large chunk of the territory claimed by India.

“The actions of the PLA units on the ground along the LAC in Ladakh often do not appear to be consistent with the words of the Chinese Government’s diplomats in Beijing,” said another source in New Delhi.

The last meeting between Maj Gen Bapat and Sr Col Haan on August 8 on the issue of “disengagement” on the scene of the face-off at Depsang Y junction near the Daulat Beg Oldie military station also failed to make any headway as the Chinese PLA refused to accept Indian Army’s demand for withdrawal of troops, who transgressed at least eight kilometres into the territory of India.