Call it the fallout of India’s prompt move to ban Chinese apps in the country and stop joint ventures with China on different projects, the red nation withdrawn its troops by at least a kilometer in the tense Galwan river valley, sources said on Monday. Indian soldiers have also pulled back and a buffer zone has been created between the troops of both sides, according to the sources.
“We will need to wait to see if this is a lasting, genuine disengagement,” said the sources.
Temporary structures built by Chinese soldiers at the illegally occupied site at the river-bend embankment are being removed by both sides, according to the sources.
Reports of the pull-back in the last 24 hours have emerged three days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to a Ladakh forward post on Friday, where he addressed thousands of troops and asserted, without naming China, that “the age of expansionism is over and expansionist forces have either lost or were forced to turn back.”
Last Wednesday, commanders of the Indian and Chinese armies met for a third round of talks after the Galwan Valley clash. The talks went on for 12 hours.
The Lieutenant-General-level talks have focused on reducing tension at the Line of Actual Control – the de facto border between India and China – after weeks of a tense face-off including physical fights in early May.
The progress from talks, sources had said, would be contingent upon China agreeing to move back to its positions before the tension in the area started building-up in April.
Recent satellite images are proof of multiple Chinese intrusions across the Line of Actual Control and the deployment of heavy weaponry and Chinese construction activity. The images had indicated that the Chinese had illegally occupied 423 metres of Indian territory in the Galwan Valley.
Images acquired by NDTV from Planet Labs showed a significant consolidation of Chinese forces in Ladakh’s Pangong Lake region where Indian soldiers are being stopped from patrolling after violent skirmishes in May in which dozens of Indian soldiers are believed to have been injured.
Meanwhile, China too on Monday said “progress” had been made between the two militaries to disengage and ease tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), six days after commander-level talks took place to cool the situation in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley area.
“Chinese and Indian troops held a commander-level talk on June 30. The two sides continue to work to implement the consensus reached at the two previous rounds of talks,” Zhao Lijian, foreign ministry spokesperson, said on Monday.
Lijian was answering a query on whether China, as per reports in Indian media on Monday, had withdrawn troops from the area of tension.
In his response, Zhao referred to the June 30 meeting – and two previous ones in June — between delegations led by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, and Major General Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang military region.
The reaction from China came within hours of Indian media reporting that Chinese troops had agreed to move back around 1.5 km from the area of friction in the Galwan Valley.
At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a bloody brawl with People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers in the Galwan Valley area on the night of June 15. China has admitted casualties on its side but has not revealed details.