India and China have started pulling back troops from the south bank of Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh, where they were deployed amid months-long standoff along the Line of Actual Control, according to videos and photographs released by the Indian Army on Tuesday, PTI reported.
The Army, however, has not specified if the visuals were from the north or south bank of Pangong.
Last week, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had informed Parliament that both the countries will remove deployments along the Pangong lake in a “phased, coordinated and verified manner”. Videos showed People’s Liberation Army troops dismantling tents and bunkers and moving equipment in vehicles. A large number of Chinese soldiers are seen walking down a hillside to board trucks.
According to NDTV, China has withdrawn 130 to 140 tanks, 30 artillery guns and some 2,000 troops. From Pangong North Bank, 30 artillery guns and some 4,000-5,000 troops were removed during the disengagement process.
Citing sources, PTI reported that the de-induction of troops is “gathering pace”, and the entire exercise is expected to finish by the end of the week. They also said field commanders of both the sides were meeting almost on a daily basis for the disengagement process, which was finalised following nine rounds of high-level military talks.
“The entire process is being duly monitored and verified by both sides and a close watch is being maintained at the withdrawal proceedings,” an officer told The Indian Express. “Everything will be verified on ground before the next level of senior commander-level talks takes place 48 hours after the process is completed on both sides of Pangong lake.”
Tensions between the two countries flared up in June last year after deadly clashes between soldiers in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed. China is believed to also have suffered casualties as well, but has not given any details.
According to the agreement, China has to pull back its troops to east of Finger 8 areas in the northern bank, while the Indian personnel will be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3 in the region.