New Delhi: Even as the disengagement between India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at the Pangong Lake is underway in eastern Ladakh, 150 Chinese tanks and nearly 5,000 Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers have gone back. The first phase of the disengagement is underway at the Pangong Lake and was announced last week.
The scale of disengagement can only be seen when the first visuals of the disengagement were released by the Indian Army on Tuesday. The visuals showed infantry disengagement, Chinese PLA tents being dismantled, and carrying load-backs while moving to the rear areas.
After Chinese troops and tanks, now Chinese infantry is retreating from both sides of Pangong Lake. Chinese army tanks have retreated to the Sengdong base 50 km away and India has been monitoring the entire process of retreat. By February 20, the withdrawal of forces will be completed, and within 48 hours, a discussion will begin at the Corps Commander level to find a solution to other disputed sites, including the Depsang Plains.
On the morning of February 10, about 10 massive Chinese troops retreated their tanks from the southern shore of Pangong Lake. The Chinese Army first retreated its three tanks and then the Indian Army did the same. But the retreating tanks of the Indian Army were wary of any deception in China and full preparations were made to return immediately in an emergency.
More than 230 Chinese tanks were counted back in front of the Rezang La and Rechin La, or the RR complex. These tanks were in two queues, the first one being 500 meters away from the Indian positions and the second one being one and a half km away from the queue. The Indian Army was also mentally prepared for the situation that China should not stop the withdrawal by pretending that one tank was damaged. But by 7 pm on February 10, the tanks on both sides returned from the hills and elsewhere in the Chushul sector.
As part of the disengagement, the Chinese will move east of Finger 8 of the north bank of Pangong lake, while India will be present at its base at Finger 3. No patrolling will take place between Finger 4 to Finger 8 and all structures will be removed.
The disengagement comes after a months-long standoff that started in April-May 2020 with China trying to unilaterally change the situation on the ground. The Galwan incident saw the death of 20 Indian soldiers, leading to a dramatic escalation and impacting Delhi-Beijing ties. China also suffered casualties but never came up with a number.