Parliament’s defence panel to visit Galwan Valley, Pangong in Ladakh

The region has been witness to a violent nine-month stand-off between the troops of India and China

Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi visited Puducherry to kick off the Congress’ assembly election campaign amid a crisis facing the party in the Union Territory, where its government has lost the majority. | File photo: PTI

The parliamentary standing committee on defence, of which Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is a member, has decided to visit Galwan Valley and Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh where the Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a bitter stand-off over last nine months.

The 30-member committee, chaired by senior BJP leader and former Union Minister Jual Oram, wishes to visit the eastern Ladakh region in the last week of May or in June.

The decision to visit these areas was taken in the panel’s last meeting, sources said, adding that since the committee intends to visit the Line of Actual Control (LAC), it depends on the approval from the government. Rahul Gandhi did not reportedly attend the meeting.

After a nine-month standoff, the two militaries reached an agreement on disengagement in the north and south banks of Pangong lake that mandates the both sides to cease forward deployment of troops in a “phased, coordinated and verifiable” manner.

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On Thursday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made a detailed statement in Parliament on the disengagement pact.

According to the agreement, China has to pull back its troops to east of Finger 8 areas in the northern bank while Indian personnel will be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3 in the region. Similar action will take place on the south bank of the lake as well, Singh said in Parliament.

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The defence ministry said on Friday that India has not “conceded” any territory to China by firming up an agreement on the disengagement process in Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh, and other outstanding “problems” including in Depsang, Hot Springs ad Gogra will be taken up at the upcoming talks between military commanders of the two countries.

The statement by the ministry came hours after Rahul Gandhi alleged that the government has “ceded” Indian territory to the Chinese and raised questions over the agreement on the disengagement process.

The ministry also dubbed as “categorically false” the assertion that Indian territory is up to Finger 4 in the Pangong Tso area, adding the permanent posts of both sides in the area are “longstanding and well-established”.

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“India has not conceded any territory as a result of this agreement. On the contrary, it has enforced observance and respect for LAC and prevented any unilateral change in the status quo,” the ministry said in the strongly-worded statement.

The MEA also said that the two countries have agreed to convene the 10th round of senior commanders meeting within 48 hours after complete disengagement in the Pangong Lake area to address the remaining issues, and added that no date has been set for Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China border affairs.

The agreement on disengagement in the north and south banks of Pangong lake mandates both Chinese and Indian sides to “cease” forward deployment of troops in a “phased, coordinated and verifiable” manner.

(With inputs from agencies)

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