Ladakh Stand-Off: India To Press For Early Disengagement At Friction Points In Talks Tomorrow, 50-60,000 Troops Still Deployed

India and China are locked in a military face-off in Eastern Ladakh since early 2020 when Chinese soldiers entered Indian territory and clashed with Indian personnel.

Indian Army

India and China are scheduled to hold a fresh round of high-level military talks on Monday in which India is set to press for the early disengagement at the remaining friction points in Eastern Ladakh. 

India and China are locked in a military face-off in Eastern Ladakh since early 2020 when Chinese soldiers entered Indian territory and clashed with Indian personnel. Several thousands of personnel along with war-waging equipment such as artillery, tanks, and fighter aircraft were rushed into the region after the initial clashes. The situation escalated several notches on June 15, 2020, when 20 Indian soldiers and unspecified number of Chinese soldiers were killed in a clash at Galway Valley. 

Since then, several rounds of military-led as well as diplomats-led talks have been held and troops have disengaged from certain areas, but some points of friction remain in place. Around 50-60,000 soldiers continue to be deployed in the region in the absence of normalcy. 

The Narendra Modi government maintains that peace and tranquility at the border is the basis of the bilateral relationship whereas the Chinese government wants to separate the border situation from the rest of the relationship. The Modi government has said the Ladakh stand-off has driven the India-China relationship to their lowest since 1962, when India and China fought a war that India lost, and that the situation at the border has "eroded strategic trust and the public and political basis of the relationship".

What's the agenda for talks tomorrow?

India and China are slated to hold the 19th round of high-level military-led talks tomorrow over the stand-off in Eastern Ladakh. 

India is set to press for press for early disengagement of troops from the remaining friction points in Eastern Ladakh, reported PTI.

The disengagement is the first step in the restoration of normalcy in the region. Disengagement involves the withdrawal of personnel, fortification, and battle-equipment like tanks and armoured personnel carriers from the frontline. Once the soldiers locked eyeball-to-eyeball have disengaged from a place, deescalation is the next step. Deescalation means the withdrawal of reserve troops and war-waging equipment like artillery, missiles, and fighter planes. 

The Indian delegation at the talks are going to seek completion of the disengagement process in the remaining friction points at the earliest, said a source to PTI.

In the 18th round of military talks in April, India pressed for the resolution of lingering issues at Depsang and Demchok.

The Indian delegation on Monday is likely to be headed by Lt Gen Rashim Bali, the Commander of the Leh-headquartered 14 Corps, reported PTI, adding that the Chinese delegation is expected to be led by the commander of the South Xinjiang Military District.

Besides Indian military leaders and diplomats, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also engaged with their counterparts in the Chinese government regarding the stand-off. 

On July 24, NSA Doval met top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi on the sidelines of BRICS meeting in South Africa and a government statement quoted Doval as saying that the situation at the border "eroded strategic trust" and the public and political basis of the relationship. The statement further said Doval emphasised the importance of continuing efforts to fully resolve the situation and restore peace and tranquillity in the border areas so as to remove impediments to normalcy in bilateral ties, reported PTI.

Last month, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke on the need to stabilise bilateral relations at a dinner during the G-20 summit in Indonesia last year. The meeting went unacknowledged until last month. 

50-60,000 soldiers still deployed in Eastern Ladakh

Around 50-60,000 soldiers are still deployed by both the sides in Eastern Ladakh as the situation is far from normal. 

In 2020, the Indian Air Force (IAF) airlifted over 68,000 Indian Army personnel, around 90 tanks, and other weapon system to Eastern Ladakh from across the country for rapid deployment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto India-China border, Galwan Valley clashes, top sources in defence and security establishment told PTI.

The IAF deployed its Su-30 MKI and Jaguar jets for round-the-clock surveillance and intelligence gathering on the enemy build-up, besides putting several squadrons of combat aircraft in "offensive posturing", reported PTI, adding that the troops and weapons were ferried by the transport fleet of the IAF within a "very short period of time" for quick deployment in various inhospitable areas along the LAC under a special operation