Even as New Delhi awaits Beijing’s confirmation on a date for the eighth round of military-diplomatic level dialogue on disengagement in East Ladakh, HT learns that it has rejected the conditions posed by the People’s Liberation Army for the withdrawal of Chinese troops from the Finger 4 mountainous spur on the north banks of Pangong Tso.
According to officials familiar with the thinking in India’s national security establishment, the next round of talks will likely be held after the end of the 5th Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee meeting and the November 3 US Presidential elections. India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh on his part has made it clear that the country is ready to continue with the disengagement and de-escalation dialogue so that both armies, deployed since May 2020, can return to their barracks.
According to senior military commanders familiar with the discussions between the two sides, India has found PLA’s condition that Indian Army should only patrol till Finger 3 of Pangong Tso, with the Chinese army only patrolling till Finger 5 unacceptable as this means that the contentious Finger 4 will become part of occupied Aksai Chin.
Essentially, the Chinese proposal means that Finger 4 will become out of bounds for both armies even though the Indian Army used to (or at least try to) patrol till Finger 8 in the past.
The Chinese perception of the line of actual control or LAC, by a 1959 line, runs through Finger 4 of the Pangong Tso lake.