New Delhi: There have been some positive developments along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh with both India and China agreeing to disengage.

In a surprise move, the Chinese PLA had withdrawn over 200 main battle tanks from the south banks of the Pangong Tso. The PLA also positioned no less than 100 heavy vehicles to ferry its troops from fingers of the north banks to Srijap sector, east of Finger 8.

Following an agreement reached between India and China, the disengagement at Pangong Lake began at 9 am on Wednesday. This is thanks to several back channel talks held by the military commanders, External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval with their counterparts in Beijing. Officials said that this has been achieved after the back-channel talks by India's top national security planners and also the fact that India stood its ground.

Officials also said that once the disengagement is complete at Pangong Tso, talks would be initiated about the withdrawal from patrolling point 15 and 17 ie Gogra and Hot Springs respectively.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in the Rajya Sabha that the Armed Forces had responded to the challenges posed by the unilateral Chinese action and have shown valour and courage on both South and North bank of Pangong Tso.

The statement in the Upper House was made a day after China said that both the armies would disengage from the north and south banks of Pangong Tso. The statement by the Defence Minister signals that the are clear signs of tensions being eased in Eastern Ladakh.

Many strategically important points were identified and our troops positioned themselves at those Hill Tops and at locations which were very important from our point of view. It is because of this great bravery of our Armed Forces in the face of harsh adverse climatic conditions that we maintained the edge. Our Armed Forces proved yet again that territorial integrity of our country remains safe in their hands and their grit and determination to safeguard our borders is unwavering, the Defence Minister said.

During the discussions held between the two countries, India maintained three key principles:

(i) both sides should strictly respect and observe the LAC
(ii) neither side should attempt to alter the status quo unilaterally
(iii) all agreements and understandings between the two sides must be fully abided by in their entirety.

Till date, there have been 9 rounds of meetings of the Senior Commanders of both sides. Diplomatic talks have continued in parallel under the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC). I am happy to inform the House today that as a result of our well thought out approach and sustained talks with the Chinese side, we have now been able to reach an agreement on disengagement in the North and South Bank of the Pangong Lake.

It has also been agreed to convene the next meeting of the Senior Commanders within 48 hours after the complete disengagement in the Pangong Lake area so as to address and resolve all other remaining issues, Singh also said.

Troop Presence:

It has been agreed that for disengagement in the Pangong lake both sides will cease their forward deployments in a phased, coordinated and verified manner. The Chinese side will keep its troop presence in the North Bank area to east of Finger 8. Reciprocally, the Indian troops will be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3.

A similar action would be taken in the South Bank area by both sides. These are mutual and reciprocal steps and any structures that had been built by both sides since April 2020 in both North and South Bank area will be removed and the landforms will be restored.

It has also been agreed to have a temporary moratorium on military activities by both sides in the North Bank, including patrolling to the traditional areas. Patrolling will be resumed only when both sides reach an agreement in diplomatic and military talks that would be held subsequently. The implementation of this agreement has started yesterday in the North and South Bank of the Pangong Lake. It will substantially restore the situation to that existing prior to commencement of the standoff last year.