Around 50 soldiers each from both sides remained deployed within a kilometre of the flashpoint since tensions escalated in May 2020. As per the consensus reached at other flashpoints that were since resolved, troops from both sides have to move back and remove all temporary structures and defences created in the area to complete a disengagement. “Building on the progress made at the last meeting on March 11, 2022, the two sides continued discussions for the resolution of the relevant issues along the LAC in the Western Sector in a constructive and forward-looking manner,” an official statement after the talks read.
The last disengagement of troops took place a year ago, after Corps Commander Talks in July 2021 led to the resolution of a standoff at Patrol Point 17A in Gogra. Since then, talks have taken place on resolving the Hot Springs issue, as well as a small standoff at Demchock and the denial of patrolling at Depsang plains.
Defence ministry officials described the issue of setting up of two tents by so-called Chinese civilians at the Charding Nullah junction in Demchock since 2018 as an older issue that is not connected to the aggressive deployment of thousands of PLA soldiers in 2020, which led to a deadly clash at Galwan. Similarly, obstructions to patrolling at the Depsang plains is also a legacy issue, with the PLA resorting to such tactics since 2013 with several disagreements and faceoffs taking place, officials said.
Patrol Point 15 at Hot Springs was a major area of confrontation in May 2020, with over a thousand Chinese soldiers deployed across LAC, in violation of several border agreements. The Indian Army had also moved a similar opposing force to the area, which at one time included heavy equipment as well. By July 2020, most troops were withdrawn as per an agreement at the Corps Commander level. However, the small detachment that remained at the area is now likely to be pulled back.
A similar model to the disengagement at PP 17A that was conducted in August 2020 is likely to be followed. At that time, the disengagement was carried out over two days, with all temporary structures and other allied infrastructure created dismantled and mutually verified.