India will seek to patrol the portion of the Fingers Region along the Pangong Lake in Ladakh which it was prevented from doing after a large-scale Chinese incursion in the area once tensions between the two countries subside, government sources have told NDTV. “Patrolling has been stopped for [the] time being but would be restored as things cool off. We will physically verify each of our points.”
India has traditionally claimed rights to patrol all eight spurs (referred to as fingers) in the disputed region and believes that the Line of Actual Control or LAC here rests at Finger 8. China, for its part, believes that the LAC lies at Finger 4 beyond which the territory belongs to them. In May this year, several Indian soldiers were injured in violent clashes here after Chinese forces prevented Indian soldiers from moving in the direction of Finger 8.
But with the process of disengagement proceeding successfully, there is hope that China will vacate the region between Finger 4 and Finger 8. Satellite pictures indicate that there are more than 186 Chinese tents and shelters which have been set up across the disputed region since the tensions began. So far, there has been a marginal thinning out of forces in the Finger 4 region by China though they continue to occupy the ridge-lines between Finger 4 and Finger 8.
At the moment, Chinese and Indian forces have mutually withdrawn 2 kilometres each in the Galwan Valley, Hot Springs and Gogra. Crucial talks at the Joint Secretary level of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination will continue talks towards an eventual restoration of the status quo across Ladakh before reports of Chinese incursions in five regions came in during the month of April. “With cautious optimism, we would be moving forward and would be reviewing the overall progress made on ground,” a senior officer in government told NDTV.
Talks between India and China have been continuing at multiple levels since 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action in fierce clashes with Chinese forces in the Galwan region. Since then, there have been military level talks in Ladakh at the level of Lieutenant General, Foreign Minister level talks, and talks between the Special Representatives of both sides. “It was a difficult situation as we did not have anything to counter bargain. But India defended its stance and good news is China seems to have relented,” a senior bureaucrat said.