In deal to end standoff with China, India agreed to give up key bunker

LadakhA banner held aloft by intruding Chinese troops at Daulat Beg Oldi sector of Ladakh. (PTI photo)

The status quo ante that has been restored along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) pertains not only to the withdrawal of troops from both sides on the Depsang plain, but also to the abandonment of an Indian military fortification that came up in Ladakh's Chumar area a few days after the Chinese set up a temporary camp on April 15.

Sources on the ground said that while Indian troops withdrew to the base camp in Burtse and the Chinese to their camp in Tianwendian on the Chip Chap river, the condition about Chumar was key.

Sources said this fortification had come up on April 20, after the first flag meeting on April 18. At the second flag meeting on April 23, the Chinese were very clear that the fortification, which was a dominating Indian observation post on the LAC, must be abandoned.

Top sources confirmed that the only terms of disengagement that were discussed were the restoration of status quo on the border as it was before April 15, apart from "peace and tranquillity" on the LAC.

It is understood that the incident is also an indicator that China wants to discuss boundary issues during the visit of the Premier to India later this month.

India has over the past few years scaled up efforts to build infrastructure in the region, specifically at the Daulat Beg Oldie camp north of Depsang plains. The incursion at Depsang was in protest against some of this build-up. The Chinese specifically brought up "aggressive patrolling" and the building of border infrastructure by India as problem areas.

On Monday, the two sides held another flag meeting to authenticate the withdrawal of troops and reverting to the pre-April 15 status quo on infrastructure and fortifications.

"The governments of India and China have agreed to restore status quo ante along the Line of Actual Control... as it existed prior to 15 April... Flag meetings have been held to work out the modalities and to confirm the arrangements," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

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