New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed Parliament on Thursday that India and China have reached an accord on disengagement in the North and South bank of Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh.
The deal mandates both sides to cease forward deployment of troops in a "phased, coordinated and verifiable" manner, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced in Parliament on Thursday. The decision marks a breakthrough after a nine-month border standoff.
The minister shared details of the pact intended to defuse the military face-off in Ladakh that has been causing strained relations between the two countries. During his briefing, Rajnath also assured teh Rajya Sabha that India has not conceded anything in the sustained talks with China, also adding that India will not allow even an inch of its territory to be taken by anyone.
Rajnath Singh's statement in the Rajya Sabha came a day after China announced the process. Singh explained that both sides would remove structures that had been built since April last year in North and South bank areas. In effect a temporary moratorium has been place on military activities.
"I am happy to inform the House today that as a result of our well thought out approach and sustained talks with the Chinese side, we have now been able to reach an agreement on disengagement in the North and South bank of the Pangong lake," the defence minister said.
"The Chinese side will keep its troop presence in the North bank area to east of Finger 8. Reciprocally, the Indian troops will be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa post near Finger 3. A similar action would be taken in the South bank area by both sides," he said.
The defence minister said patrolling will be resumed in the areas only when both sides reach an agreement in diplomatic and military talks that would be held subsequently.
He said 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 areas will be removed and the landforms will be restored.
"I want to assure this House that in these talks we have not conceded anything. The House should also know that there are still some outstanding issues with regard to deployment and patrolling at some other points along the Line of Actual Control(LAC) in eastern Ladakh," he said.
"These will be the focus of further discussions with the Chinese side. We have agreed that both sides should achieve complete disengagement at the earliest and abide fully by the bilateral agreements and protocols."
Noting that the Chinese side is fully aware of India's resolve by now, he said it is India's expectation that the neighbouring country will work with the Indian side in full sincerity to resolve these remaining issues.
The minister also expressed gratitude for the soliers, "Our Nation will always remember the sacrifices made by our brave soldiers which has been the foundation of this disengagement at Pangong Tso lake."
China is yet to disclose the number of its soldiers killed and injured in the clash though it officially admitted to have suffered casualties. According to an American intelligence report, the number of casualties on the Chinese side was 35.
(PTI feed with edits)