Indian army sources claimed on Monday that China has started a retreat of its troops from the Galwan Valley area in the northern Himalayan region of Ladakh, where recent clashes took place between the two sides.
In a first sign of disengagement from the site of the June 15 clash Chinese troops were seen “dismantling tents and moving back in vehicles,” an official from the Indian Army told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.
China retreats from Ladakh site says Indian Army
Defensive structures at patrolling point 14, the main site of the June 15 clash that killed 20 Indian soldiers including a colonel, were removed and the Chinese army moved back by “at least a mile [1.6 kilometers]”, said the official, adding that the Indian army was closely monitoring the disengagement of troops.
राहुल जी घर के ac कमरे में ट्वीट लिखने से कुछ नहीं होगा ! समझिये
China withdraws troops, removes structures from friction points in Ladakh's Galwan Valley
— Rana Ravi Rai #RWorld (@raviranabjp) July 7, 2020
The Indian army has been hailing this as a diplomatic victory for Indian diplomacy.
However, Indian daily The Economic Times reported that with the retreat from both sides, a four-kilometer (2.5 miles) strip of no man’s land was demarcated and both armies agreed not to carry out aerial surveillance in the region.
China hails dialogue as India claims China retreats from Ladakh
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: “There is progress made on front line troops taking effective measures to disengage and ease the tensions.”
According to China’s state-run Global Times newspaper, Lijian underlined that Beijing hoped India would work with China and “through concrete actions implement the consensus, and continue close communication through military and diplomatic channels to jointly push for the de-escalation of the border region.”
In a phone call between the countries’ special representatives on the border issue — both sides agreed on the need to “ensure complete disengagement of troops” along the de facto border known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), according to a press release by the Indian Foreign Ministry on Monday.
The ministry underlined that Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi sought to maintain the “peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas […] for the further development of our bilateral relations and that two sides should not allow differences to become disputes.”
India and China agree to disengage from border
Chinese troops were seen removing structures from a Himalayan valley where they fought a deadly battle with Indian soldiers last month, Indian army sources said Monday, after high-level talks between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Brutal hand-to-hand fighting in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh on June 15 left twenty Indian soldiers dead and sent tensions between the countries soaring. China has acknowledged it suffered casualties but has not given figures.
Read more: Repercussions of tensions between India and China for Asia China retreats Ladakh
The two sides agreed on Sunday to “completely disengage” from the border flashpoint and ensure “a phased and stepwise de-escalation in the India-China border areas,” India’s foreign ministry said Monday.
China maintains it will defend its territorial integrity
In a CCTV readout of the meeting, China’s representative Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing would “effectively defend its territorial sovereignty, while maintaining peace in the border areas”.
Earlier, an Indian army source said that China’s People’s Liberation Army soldiers were seen removing tents and structures in the Galwan Valley, and military vehicles were being moved back.
Read more: India’s irresponsible government is adding fuel to Ladakh fire: Dr. Moeed Pirzada China retreats Ladakh
“Disengagement with the PLA has started as per agreed terms in the Corps Commanders’ meeting,” the source said, adding the Indian army was verifying how far back Chinese forces had withdrawn.
There was no comment on whether there was a similar withdrawal by Indian troops.
What was the Galvan valley clash?
The Galwan Valley incident was the first time in 45 years that soldiers had died in combat on the Asian giants’ long-disputed border.
Twenty Indian soldiers, including a colonel, were killed in a “violent” faceoff on June 15 with Chinese troops in the high-altitude Ladakh region.
China withdraws troops, removes structures from friction points in Ladakh's Galwan Valley, say reports
It was along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh that violent clashes between India and China’s armies on 15 June led to the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers.
— Ajay Kumar Gupta (@AjayKumaraGupt1) July 6, 2020
An Indian army officer based in the region said that there had been no shooting: “There was no firing. No firearms were used. It was violent hand-to-hand scuffles,” the officer said on condition of anonymity.
China had accused Indian soldiers of crossing the Line of Actual Control, in a bid to drive the Chinese out of the disputed region, which is controlled by China but claimed by India.
The massive escalation occurred after weeks of tension at the Line of Actual Control between the two countries.
India has said the clashes happened “as a result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo.”
On Friday, Modi visited the region to address the forces at the forward post and meet injured troops.
The border skirmishes, which started on May 5, at the Galwan Valley and then at the Naku La mountain pass in northeastern Sikkim three days later led to a military and diplomatic impasse between the two countries. Recently, the Indian army claimed that China has started retreat from Ladakh.
Thousands of soldiers on both sides had been camping along the un-demarcated LAC.
India and China fought a war over the frontier in 1962.
GVS News Desk with additional input by other sources
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