India,China reach mutual consensus to ‘disengage’

In the Corps Commander level talks between India and China at Moldo, both sides have reached a mutual consensus to disengage in the Eastern Ladakh sector, Indian Army said on Tuesday.

According to sources cited by news agencies, the modalities for disengagement from all friction areas in Eastern Ladakh were discussed and will be taken forward by both sides.

India

“The Corps Commander level talks between India and China on 22 June 2020 were held at Moldo in a cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere. There was a mutual consensus to disengage. Modalities for disengagement from all friction areas in Eastern Ladakh were discussed and will be taken forward by both sides,” the Army said.

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The meeting had started at around 11:30 AM yesterday at Moldo on the Chinese side of Line of Actual Control (LAC) opposite Chushul to defuse the tensions in the Eastern Ladakh sector due to the Chinese military build-up, sources had said.

This was the second meeting between the two corps commanders. They had met on June 6 and had agreed to disengage at multiple locations. India had asked the Chinese side to return to pre-May 4 military positions along the LAC.

The Chinese side had not given any response to the specific Indian proposal and not even shown intent on the ground to withdraw troops from rear positions where they have amassed over 10,000 troops.

On the perchance of Pangong Lake in Ladakh becoming a major source of contention between India and China, the two countries have engaged in a serious discussion over the past few days in order to sort out and resolve the tensions over the border dispute. According to sources, India has now demanded pre-May 2 status quo at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the meeting with China that took place yesterday (i.e. June 22, Monday).

India and China held Corps Commander-level meeting at Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) opposite Chushul to discuss the ongoing dispute in Ladakh. Last week, as many as 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives in the face-off in the Galwan Valley after an attempt by the Chinese troops to unilaterally change the status quo during the de-escalation in eastern Ladakh.

The Indian intercepts have revealed that the Chinese side suffered 43 casualties including dead and seriously injured in the violent clash.

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Earlier, the central government had approved emergency funds for the Indian Army to buy any weapons systems under Rs 500 crore rupees. This is the first time that the armed forces have been granted such authority since the 2019 Balakot airstrike, when Indian warplanes had crossed the de facto border in Kashmir and dropped bombs in the vicinity of the town of Balakot in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan.

The armed forces can now buy any weapons system which they feel is necessary during war. The Indian Army has also been given full freedom to give a befitting response to any Chinese ‘misadventure’.

The rules of engagement at the LAC have changed and field commanders have been sanctioned to use firearms under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ using all resources at their disposal.

Two agreements signed earlier between India and China, in 1996 and 2005, respectively, did not permit the use of firearms in these areas.

According to the terms of an agreement signed in 1996, “neither side shall open fire or hunt with guns or explosives within 2km from the line of actual control”.

Meanwhile, Chinese state media Global Times’ editor Hu Xijin called the change in the lines of engagement as a “serious violation” of the agreement between New Delhi and Beijing.