Ladakh: China’s People’s Liberation Army has demanded the creation of a 15-20km buffer zone or no patrol zone inside India-claimed lines as a precondition for disengagement on the strategic Depsang Plains in Ladakh region and refused India’s offer of a 3-4km demilitarised strip, reported The Telegraph.
Sources in the intelligence wing of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) told the newspaper that the Chinese want a buffer zone with a width of 15-20km inside Indian Territory as part of the disengagement process from the Depsang Plains.
“During negotiations, India rejected the demand and instead agreed to a 3-4km buffer zone, but the Chinese refused to budge.”
As per the report, China made these latest demand during the 18th round of corps commander talks last month, and reiterated it during subsequent military talks at lower levels.
“The Chinese army is already entrenched 18km inside India-claimed lines and now wants a buffer zone of another 15-20km. It’s apparent that they are working aggressively to establish a revised status quo along the Line of Actual Control in the region,” the official told the newspaper.
A retired major general said: “The government has capitulated and handed the Chinese more territory on a platter by agreeing to the buffer zones; now they (the Chinese) want more at the Depsang Plains.”
India’s defence ministry has said that these “buffer zones are temporary and India has not given up its rights on those areas”.
“India had lost access to 26 of its 65 patrolling points (PPs) in eastern Ladakh following the Chinese incursion,” as per a research paper submitted by the Leh SP during the DGPs’ conference in Delhi in January this year.
The Depsang Plains, a 972sqkm plateau, situated 16,000ft above sea level - lie to the west of Aksai Chin, a region controlled by China, and have the Siachen Glacier (controlled mostly by India and region’s west of Saltoro Ridge by Pakistan) on their northwestern edge.
Depsang plains is divided by the "line of Actual Control" (LAC) between India and China, it is one of the areas where no disengagement has taken place despite numerous rounds of talks between military commanders at various levels.
After the Govt of India scrapped the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019, China blocked the Indian patrols at Bottleneck or Y-junction and denied them access to five patrolling points in the area – PP9, PP10, PP11, PP12 and PP13.