Former Army chief Gen. VP Malik

New Delhi: Former Army chief Gen. V.P. Malik (Retd) has said it is too early to hope for peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, but called for continuation of strategic and economic measures adopted against China. Gen. Malik also expressed surprise about the criticism of the ongoing disengagement process at Pangong Tso, such as claims that India has ceded territory, saying it was mostly due to ignorance of facts and politico-military understanding or sheer prejudice.

Malik explained on Twitter that the temporary freeze on patrolling between ‘Finger 4’ and ‘Finger 8’ on the northern bank of Pangong Tso was essential to avoid clashes.

The troops around the lake are going back to pre-April 2020 locations, he wrote, referring to the understanding reached by the two countries, under which Indian soldiers will move back to their last permanent base in the ‘Finger’ area, which is the Dhan Singh Thapa post of the ITBP, just short of Finger 4.

Similarly, Chinese troops will go back to their permanent post, which is beyond Finger 8 and is known as the Sirijap post.

While Indian troops are mainly based at Finger 2, the LAC is located at Finger 8. Indian troops used to travel by foot and were usually stopped by the Chinese at Finger 4 or 5.

The Chinese had managed to build a road till Finger 5 during the Kargil War, and they would travel by vehicles whenever they used to see Indian foot patrols. Indians cannot take vehicles beyond Finger 3 because the path to Finger 4 is very narrow and can be accessed only by foot.

While the Chinese claim the area till Finger 2 as their territory, they can only reach till Finger 4 on land because vehicles can’t go beyond that point.

Depsang, Gogra, Hot Springs, Galwan

Gen. Malik noted that on completion of the Pangong disengagement, talks for withdrawal in the Depsang Plains, Gogra, Hot Spring and Galwan are to be held within 48 hours. He added that full disengagement and de-escalation is bound to take long.

According to Gen. Malik, China has been “compelled to restore status quo ante” and India has been able to assert that LAC violations will affect all relations and its own border infrastructure building will continue. He also said India has strengthened itself geo-politically, strategically and economically.

“Too early to hope for peace, tranquillity & as-before relations between India & China. LoC type deployment on LAC; strategic & economic measures adopted already must continue,” he tweeted.