- India and China have reached an agreement on disengagement in Ladakh
- "Both sides will withdraw in phased, verified manner": Rajnath Singh
- India would not allow even an inch of its territory to be taken, he said
India and China have reached an agreement on disengagement at Pangong Tso in Ladakh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said today in parliament, giving details of a breakthrough after a protracted stand-off and several rounds of talks between military commanders and diplomats.
"Our sustained talks with China have led to agreement on disengagement on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake. After this agreement, India-China will remove forward deployments in a phased, coordinated manner," the Defence Minister said in his statement in the Rajya Sabha.
"I want to assure this House that in these talks we have not conceded anything," he asserted. "The agreement that we have been able to reach with the Chinese side for disengagement in the Pangong lake area envisages that both sides will cease their forward deployments in a phased, coordinated and verified manner."
Mr Singh said the Chinese would keep their troop presence in the North Bank area to east of Finger 8 and the Indian troops would be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3.
Similar action would be taken in the South Bank by both sides.
"These are mutual and reciprocal steps and any structures that had been built by both sides since April 2020 in both North and South Bank area will be removed and the landforms will be restored," he said.
The minister said both sides had also agreed to a moratorium on military activities in the North Bank, including patrolling, in traditional areas. Patrolling would be resumed when both sides reached an agreement in diplomatic and military talks.
The disengagement started yesterday in the North and South Bank of the Pangong Lake and would "substantially restore" the situation to that before the standoff began last year, the minister said.
Mr Singh said there were still some outstanding issues on deployment and patrolling at some other points along the LAC in eastern Ladakh and these would be the focus of further discussions.
"We have agreed that both sides should achieve complete disengagement at the earliest and abide fully by the bilateral agreements and protocols. By now, the Chinese side is also fully aware of our resolve," he said, praising soldiers who had shown grit and resolve under extremely harsh conditions in Ladakh.
Mr Singh said India had never accepted China's unjustified claims and would not allow even an inch of its territory to be taken.
"Pakistan has illegally given India's land to China, and we do not recognise such an arrangement. China also claims a large area of India's land, and we have never agreed to such unwarranted claims," he said.
"In Ladakh too, China moved unilaterally, and India has and will continue to ensure that our sovereignty is maintained. After China moved a large number of troops to the LAC, against our agreements, India too has made large-scale arrangements and moved in increased troops to safeguard our interests."
In November last year senior government sources said a disengagement plan had been readied but there was no agreement on implementing it. That plan included both sides pulling back armour - tanks and armoured personnel carriers - from close to the LAC.
India-China tensions resurfaced in May last year with a series of skirmishes in the Pangong Lake region. The row escalated on June 14, when 20 Indian soldiers died for the country in a physical clash in Galwan Valley.
There have been several rounds of talks to resolve the standoff since.