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Parliamentary panel on defence plans to visit Galwan, Pangong Tso

The planned visit depends on approval from the government

pangong tso reuters Representational image of Pangong Tso | Reuters

The parliamentary standing committee on defence has decided to visit the Galwan valley and Pangong Tso lake in the eastern Ladakh region, which has been witness to a stand-off between the troops of India and China, sources said on Friday.

The 30-member committee—chaired by senior BJP leader and former Union minister Jual Oram and of which Rahul Gandhi is also a member—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, which was not attended by Rahul Gandhi, sources said, adding since the panel intends to visit the LAC, it depends on approval from the government.

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

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 in the northern bank while the 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.

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 defence ministry said on Friday.

The statement by the ministry came hours after Rahul Gandhi alleged that the government has "ceded" Indian territory to China 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 "long-standing and well-established".

"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 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 the meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China border affairs.

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