Indian Army, PLA Hold Flag Meet; Agree For Gradual Withdrawal

25 September 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Mohinder Verma

Jammu: The 20-day long tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China in Leh district is all set to de-escalate with Armies of both the countries agreeing to start gradual withdrawal of troops from tomorrow by maintaining status quo on the developmental activities, which were the cause of disagreement between two sides. The tension had escalated on the Line of Actual Control after Indian Army objected to the construction of road by the Chinese Army in Chumur area and subsequent face-off between Armies of both the countries at Chumur and confrontation between civilians of both the countries at Demchok. Though two flag meetings were held between Indian Army and People's Liberation Army since September 5, when the situation turned hostile, yet both the sides remained adamant on their respective stands notwithstanding the fact that during this period Chinese President even visited India and had deliberations on various issues including border disputes with Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Reliable sources told EXCELSIOR that third flag meeting since the eruption of tension on Line of Actual Control was held in Chushul area this afternoon on the request of China's People's Liberation Army. During the meeting chaired by Major General rank officer of Indian Army and his counterpart from PLA, Chinese military came out with a lengthy explanation of its stand on the staff-off. However, the Chinese Army expressed interest in ending the confrontation. The several hours long meeting concluded with Indian Army and PLA agreeing to maintain status quo on the Line of Actual Control by restoring pre-September 5 situation at Chumur where the Indian side had objected to the construction of road by PLA, sources said while disclosing that it would not be possible for both the sides to continue to engage in the face-off as weather conditions are going to become worse in the coming days when entire area would be snow-bound. 'It was agreed that both the sides would simultaneously start withdrawal of forces albeit gradually from Chumur and complete the same within next few days so as to maintain the sanctity of LAC', sources said, adding 'the meeting took place at Spangurgap Post in the Chinese side facing the Indian last post at Chushul'. Following the eruption of tension on LAC, Indian Army moved supplies of essential commodities in large number through road route besides moving two units of Ladakh Scouts from Leh and Chandigarh to Chumur area as troops of Ladakh Scouts are very useful in carrying out activities during hostile conditions in the worst climatic conditions. According to the sources, the number of Indian Army personnel at Chumur was around 1500 as compared to 1000 of the People's Liberation Army for which even airdropping of essential commodities was made by China to ensure sustenance of its troops. They said that following complete de-escalation of tension in Chumur area, the focus would be on Demchok, where face-off between civilians supported by the Armies of both the sides is still on. On China side, there is no civilian population along LAC in Demchok area while as on Indian side, nomads used to stay in the area during summer and return to Kyool area after winter sets in. However, Indian Army continues to ensure deployment in Demchok area keeping in view strategic importance of the area. The nomads, which the People's Liberation Army, was using for face-off with civilians of Demchok, are basically putting up in Tashi village on China side. Meanwhile, PTI adds from New Delhi: India and China held hectic parlays to resolve the standoff at Ladakh border. Indian Ambassador Ashok K Kantha, who returned from New Delhi where he coordinated President Xi Jinping's visit last week, held talks with officials of the Chinese Foreign and Defence Ministries. 'I would like to emphasize again that because the China-India border is not demarcated, it is sometimes inevitable that incidents happen. What is important is for both sides to implement agreements to boost mutual understanding and mutual trust and make joint efforts to maintain peace stability in the India-China border region,' he said while replying to a number of questions on why such incidents are taking place at the border. He said while it is quite natural for some incidents to happen along the border, 'this kind of incidents will not change the overall situation of good neighbourliness and friendship between China and India'. He, however, skipped questions on why the incursion takes place coinciding with the visit of top Chinese leaders to India. 'The problems can be solved through dialogue and consultation. Both sides should manage the situation and maintain peace and stability in the area', he said.