With senior military commanders meeting at Chushul-Moldo in eastern Ladakh Friday after a gap of nearly a month, India is going to make it clear to China that it will not agree to any one-sided disengagement proposal.
This is the first Corps Commander level talk that Lt Gen. P.G.K. Menon will be heading. He had earlier attended two such talks, but the delegation was led by then 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen. Harinder Singh.
Sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint no major breakthrough is expected and both sides will remain at the frontlines even as the seven-month stand-off enters the icy-cold winter months.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Thursday said India is determined to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of “unilateralism and aggression”.
However, he also said India attaches importance to peaceful resolution of differences through dialogue and is committed to respecting various agreements inked for maintaining peace along the borders.
Asked about the Indian stand at the eighth round of Corps Commander-level talks, a source said: “India is going to be firm on its stand. The stand is that we will not agree to any one-sided disengagement proposal by China. It has to be a mutually beneficial process.”
As reported by ThePrint, China has proposed a slew of steps to ease tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, which includes withdrawing tanks and artillery guns from the forward areas back to their peacetime locations, Indian troops vacating strategic heights in the southern banks of Pangong Tso and making Finger 4 in the northern banks a no-go area.
“We have been insisting on a holistic approach. It was China which started the aggression first and they should be the ones to disengage first. And it should happen from all friction points and not just specific areas,” the source said.
‘China cannot think it can bully its way’
A second source said China cannot insist on talks focused on just the southern and northern banks of Pangong Tso.
“The process has to involve all friction points, including the Depsang Plains. China cannot think it can bully its way. If China is not going back, we are also not going back. China will just draw itself in a continued stand-off for which we are prepared,” the source added.
‘Classic Chinese strategy’
During the last Corps Commander-level talks on 12 October, China offered partial withdrawal from the northern banks.
China has proposed that Indian troops limit their patrolling until Finger 3 in the northern bank and their troops will limit their patrolling until Finger 5.
“This is the classic Chinese strategy of taking two steps ahead and taking back one step. Chinese want to show that they are doing a favour by moving back to Finger 5. Why should we limit patrolling to Finger 3 when LAC is at Finger 8?” the second source said.