The Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops have pulled back around 2 kilometres at Patrolling Point 14 and Patrolling 15 in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh while the process of pull back has started at the Hot Springs, sources said on Wednesday.
The disengagement started after a two-month military standoff and it is happening “as per agreed terms in the Corps Commanders’ meeting”. However, it has not been verified on the ground yet.
Sources said Chinese soldiers have removed tents and structures at Patrolling Point 14 and Patrolling Point 15 in the Galwan Valley.
On June 15, Indian and Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers were engaged in brutal hand-to-hand combat at Patrolling Point 14. A total 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops were killed in the worst clash in four decades.
As per the agreement between the Corps Commanders, a buffer zone of at least 1.5 km on both sides of the Line of Actual Control has to be created in these areas.
Sources said that in Galwan Valley, the water level of the Galwan river has risen suddenly due to the melting of snow, which could have forced the Chinese to move from the area faster. The Indian Army is reported to be using drones to verify Chinese movement as physical verification has been hindered by the rising water levels of the Galwan river.
At Pangong Lake, the most contentious issue between the two sides, Chinese troops have moved up to Finger 4 where they have brought over 120 vehicles and dozen boats. The Chinese army has also opened up a new front in the area near the Depsang Bulge, a table-top plateau north of Galwan. They have built camps and deployed vehicles and troops.
The Pangong lake is divided into 8 Fingers. The mountainous spurs jutting out into the lake are referred to as Fingers. India has been claiming Fingers 1 to 8.
There is also an Indian post near Finger 4. India claims the entire stretch till Finger 8. The area between Finger 5 and 8 has been a matter of dispute as China claims it. It has often witnessed confrontations.
China has made an attempt to change the status quo by putting up shelters and setting up camps in areas that were under Indian control so far.
The military commanders from both sides are in constant touch with each other. However, India remains cautious and the army and air force are on high alert.