India, China Complete Disengagement In Pangong Lake19 February 2021
New Delhi: The first phase of disengagement between Indian and Chinese troops, from both the north and the south bank of Pangong Tso is complete, and the next round of senior military commander-level talks are scheduled to be held on Saturday. The tenth round of the talks, which were supposed to be held within 48 hours of the completion of the first phase of disengagement, would be held on the Chinese side of the Chushul-Moldo Border Personnel Meeting Point (BPM) at 10 am on Saturday morning to discuss other friction points. A senior military source, aware of the details of the disengagement process, told The Indian Express that both sides had agreed that the first phase of disengagement was to be completed by February 19, and the Corps Commanders were to meet by February 21, so the meeting tomorrow will be 'as per schedule'. When asked if this means that troops from the frontline on the north and south banks of the lake have also moved back, vacating the heights, the source said that to be correct, 'as the entire issue was about the troops on heights'. The four-step disengagement included first pulling back armour, artillery and other heavy equipment, followed by infantry. Also, on Friday morning, People's Daily, China, a media group affiliated to the Chinese government, said that 'four Chinese soldiers, who were sacrificed in last June's border conflict, were posthumously awarded honorary titles and first-class merit citations, Central Military Commission announced Friday. A colonel, who led them and seriously injured, was conferred with an honorary title.' This is the first time that China or its state-affiliated media has put a number on the number of PLA soldiers who died during the clashes in the Galwan Valley on June 15, in which India had lost 20 soldiers. In the next round of talks, the focus will be on disengagement from other friction areas, which include Patrolling Point 15 (PP15) and PP17A in the Hot Springs-Gogra area, and Depsang Plains. Even as military officials have reiterated multiple times that the dispute in Depsang Plains pre-dates the current crisis, the area is strategically sensitive as it is close to India's Daulat Beg Oldie post and airstrip, and the Durbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road, and not far from Karakoram Pass in the north. In a statement in the Parliament on February 11, informing both the Houses about the disengagement process, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had said about the agreement on disengagement in the North and South Bank of the Pangong Lake that 'it has also been agreed to convene the next meeting of the Senior Commanders within 48 hours after the complete disengagement in the Pangong Lake area so as to address and resolve all other remaining issues'.