Photo shows tanks pull back from the banks of Pangong Tso lake region, in Ladakh

Disengagement at Pangong Tso to be over in a week

NEW DELHI: Chinese troops have started clearing the Finger 4 area on the North bank of the Pangong Tso and the ongoing disengagement on north and the south banks of the lake by both sides is likely to be completed within a week, a government official said on Monday.

“The huge map of China, which was engraved on the ground near Finger 5 area by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops, has been cleared by them,” the official said. The huge map was seen in satellite images during the height of the standoff.

Chinese troops had built up heavy defences and structures between Finger 8 to Finger 4 including fortified gun positions on the ridgelines of Finger 4 overlooking Indian positions. The Indian Army also set up positions around the Finger 4 in end August.

This took place amid action on the South bank of Pangong Tso, to gain tactical advantage.

Stating that disengagement is going at a good pace and could be complete by end of this week, the official said it was a huge logistical task to transport all the equipment, the stocking that was done and dismantling the structures that were built as part of the massive build up by both sides.

Once disengagement at Pangong lake is complete, Corps Commander talks would be held within 48 hrs, which is likely to happen next week to discuss the next phase which would focus on the friction points at Gogra and Hot Springs.

Two government officials observed that some disengagement has already been undertaken at Patrolling Points (PP) 15 and 17A and so it wouldn’t take much time to work out and complete the disengagement here.

In the earlier disengagement process in June and July, both sides had withdrawn majority of the troops from PP 15 and 17A and the process got scuttled as tensions flared up on the south bank of the lake in end August.

The bigger issue of contention between the two sides would be Depsang, especially as there have been developments there for several years now much before the standoff last year, one of the official added. Chinese troops have been blocking Indian Army patrols from patrolling up to the PPs 10 to 13 in the Depsang Plains.