STATE TIMES NEWSNew Delhi: Chinese military removed temporary infrastructure and continued gradual withdrawal of troops from face-off sites in Hot Springs and Gogra in eastern Ladakh for the second consecutive day on Tuesday, and the Indian Army is keeping a strict vigil on their rearward movement, government sources said. Gogra and Hot Springs are among the key friction points where the two armies were in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation for the last eight weeks. The sources said the mutual disengagement of troops at the two friction points is likely to be completed within two days, and that there has been “substantial” withdrawal of forces by Chinese military from the areas. The disengagement process began on Monday morning after a nearly two-hour telephonic conversation between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday during which they agreed on an expeditious withdrawal of troops from the area. Doval and Wang are Special Representatives for the boundary talks. The sources said the Indian Army is not lowering its guard in view of the disengagement process in the area and will continue to maintain high-level of alertness to deal with any eventualities.
IAF carries out night time patrol in LadakhNew Delhi: In a demonstration of its aerial prowess, the Indian Air Force is carrying out night time combat air patrols over the mountainous eastern Ladakh region as part of its decision to maintain a high-level of readiness notwithstanding disengagement of troops by China from a number of friction points in the area, government sources said on Tuesday.The frequency of day and night operations by frontline fighter jets is a signal that India will continue to put pressure on China until the status quo ante is restored in all the areas in eastern Ladakh including Pangong Tso, Gogra and Hot Springs, they said.“There is no question of lowering our guard at this juncture,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity.The sources said both the Army and the IAF will maintain their high alert level along the Line of Actual Control even as China has begun pulling back troops from several areas as part of a mutual disengagement process. The disengagement process began on Monday morning after a nearly two-hour telephonic conversation between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday during which they agreed on an expeditious withdrawal of troops from the area. Doval and Wang are Special Representatives for the boundary talks.In the last few days, the IAF significantly enhanced deployment of its frontline jets, attack helicopters and transport fleet in all its key bases guarding the airspace along the LAC in view of heightened border tension with China.The IAF has also pressed into service a fleet of C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft as well as C-130J Super Hercules in transporting heavy military equipment and weaponry to several forward bases to further ramp up India’s military preparedness in the region.The IAF is also using its Ilyushin-76 fleet to transport troops to various areas along the LAC, the 3,500 km de-facto border between India and China, the sources said.They said the force has already moved a sizeable number of its frontline Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar, Mirage 2000 aircrafts to several key air bases including Leh and Srinagar.It has also deployed Apache attack choppers and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to transport troops to various forward locations.The frontline fighter jets have increased their sorties in Ladakh and nearby areas.
They said the two two Armies are expected to hold further talks later this week after the first phase of disengagement process is completed. As per the decisions arrived at corps commander-level talks on June 30, the two sides would create a minimum buffer zone of three kilometer in most of the areas where they were locked in a standoff. “There has been substantial withdrawal of Chinese troops from Hot Springs and Gogra. The Chinese mliitary has dismantled temporary infrastructure too in the areas,” said a source. The Chinese military has already removed tents and withdrew its personnel from patrolling point 14 in Galwan Valley, the sources said adding the Indian Army is carrying out a thorough verification of the Chinese pull back. On the situation in Pangong Tso, they said a “marginal thinning out of troops” has been observed in the area. The Indian and Chinese armies are locked in the bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for the last eight weeks. The tension escalated manifold after the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in Galwan Valley on June 15. The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to give out the details. According to an American intelligence report the number of casualties on the Chinese side was 35. Both sides have held several rounds of diplomatic and military talks in the last few weeks to ease tension in the region. However, there was no visible sign of any end to the standoff till Sunday evening. Sources said the breakthrough was achieved at the Doval-Wang meeting. On June 30, the Indian and Chinese armies held the third round of Lt General-level talks during which both sides agreed on an “expeditious, phased and step wise” de-escalation as a “priority” to end the standoff. In the talks on June 22, the two sides arrived at a “mutual consensus” to “disengage” from all the friction points in eastern Ladakh. The first round of the Lt General talks was held on June 6 during which both sides finalised an agreement to disengage gradually from all the standoff points beginning with Galwan Valley. However, the situation deteriorated following the Galwan Valley clashes as the two sides significantly bolstered their deployments in most areas along the LAC. On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to Ladakh during which he said the era of expansionism is over and that the history is proof that “expansionists” have either lost or perished, in comments which were seen as a clear message to China that India is not going to back off and would deal with the situation with a firm hand.
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