By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times
ON THE WEB, 15 February 2021
The disengagement process in eastern Ladakh’s Panggong Tso area is in full swing, with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) knocking down military structures it had built since the border standoff began last May, people familiar with the developments said on Monday.
“PLA has removed a jetty near Finger 5 on the north bank of Panggong Tso. Some structures at a make-shift helipad are also gone. Observations towers, bunkers and shelters are being removed too. It’s part of the disengagement agreement,” said an official cited above.
Disengagement between rival soldiers deployed on heights on the north and south banks of Panggong Tso began on 10 February. The process will be over by the weekend, said a second official. Senior commanders of the two armies are likely to meet next week to discuss disengagement at other friction points in eastern Ladakh, the official said.
PLA is retreating to its base east of Finger 8 on the north bank of Panggong Tso, while the Indian army is moving back to its permanent position near Finger 3. Neither side will patrol the contested areas in between until an agreement is reached through future talks.
In a statement in Parliament on 11 February, defence minister Rajnath Singh said that structures built by both sides after April 2020 at heights on both banks of the lake will be removed. PLA had set up scores of structures in the Finger Area including bunkers, pillboxes, observation posts and tented camps.
Outstanding problems with PLA at Depsang, Hot Springs and Gogra – friction points on the contested border in eastern Ladakh – will be tackled after full disengagement in the Panggong Tso area.
The outstanding issues relating to deployment and patrolling at the three friction points will be taken up within 48 hours of pullback of troops in the Panggong Tso area.