New Delhi: With summer thawing the snow-bound heights of Ladakh, India on Thursday reiterated that it was New Delhi’s expectation neither side will provoke any new incidents, even as it pointed out that the disengagement process remains incomplete.
It has been over a year since the stand-off between the militaries of India and China began in multiple points in eastern Ladakh in early May 2020. The conflict has led to the first fatalities on the India-China border in over four decades, with at least 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese troops declared dead.
“I would like to reiterate what I have shared earlier viz. the process of disengagement remains unfinished. The two sides have agreed that in the interim they would maintain stability on the ground and avoid any new incidents. It is our expectation, therefore, that neither side should do anything that is not in keeping with these understandings,” said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi at the weekly briefing on Thursday.
So far, India and China have only ‘disengaged’ from the northern and southern banks of the Pangong Tso lake. But, even after three months, there has been no progress in the other points of friction, where thousands of Chinese and Indian troops keep a wary eye on each other.
“An early completion of disengagement in the remaining areas could lead to de-escalation of forces in Eastern Ladakh, which would hopefully lead to full restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas and enable overall progress in the bilateral relationship,” reminded Bagchi.
India has been seeking disengagement – and then de-escalation – at all the remaining stand-off points, but China has shown no urgency. Beijing has been repeatedly asserting that the border issue should not impact the overall relationship.
The Indian side, however, remains clearly wary as the snow melts.
In a recent interview to CNN-News 18, Army Chief General M.M. Naravane had said that 50,000 to 60,000 troops remain deployed on the Line of Actual Control.
In another interview to PTI, Navarane said that it was difficult to predict the timeline to resolve the standoffs in areas like Hot Springs, Gogra and Despang.
“Troops are currently holding all important areas and we have adequate troops in the form of ‘reserves’ to react to any contingencies,” he said.