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India and China exchange comprehensive disengagement proposals after 50 years

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN,

Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, October 17:

Perhaps for the first time since India and China fought a bloody war in the Himalayas in 1962, the two Asian giants appear to be engaged in discussing serious proposals for disengagement their armies along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

After seven rounds of meetings between Indian and Chinese military commanders in eastern Ladakh, the two sides have exchanged serious proposals for disengagement that are currently being studied by the top echelons of the Indian government.

Though sources are tight-lipped about the development, it is believed that India is looking for a “comprehensive” disengagement that covers all the friction points along the LAC and addresses future problems.

While discussions on disengagement have been on for some time, the current discussion is seen as a serious movement between the two sides. The proposals have been discussed in the China Study Group in their last meeting and are still being deliberated.

That something serious is afoot was hinted at by Indian External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Thursday. Addressing an online conclave, he said: “Discussions are on, what is going on is something confidential between us and the Chinese,” he said when the moderator at the Bloomberg India Economic Forum pressed him to give a clear status of the border situation.

“There is not very much that I am in a position to say in public. I certainly do not want to prejudge it,” he added.

India-China LAC is 4,057 km-long. Over a period of time, China has agreed that there are 23 areas of dispute needing resolution.

There is no certainty that this could lead to a breakthrough, but it is a significant development and comes after India acquired tactical advantages on the heights around Pangong Tso, thus changing the equations on the ground.

It comes after the government decided to send senior Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official Naveen Srivastava to the border talks. Srivastava was a surprise introduction in the sixth round, and in the seventh, the Chinese foreign ministry too sent its representative.

The development also acknowledges a bitter reality — of deep winter setting which is already imposing human costs on both sides.

 

The MEA’s official readout after the last round described the talks as “positive and constructive”, adding that it was the second time both sides had issued a joint statement, indicating convergence.

“This is the second joint press release issued after the one issued after the previous round. The two sides have a better understanding of each other’s positions. Disengagement is a complex process that requires redeployment of troops by each side towards their regular posts on their respective sides of the LAC,” the MEA had said.

 

The talks so far have been successful in setting in place local steps to avoid confrontation and flare-ups. What they are now talking about is a deeper disengagement. India has made it clear that de-escalation (troops and equipment returning to their bases) could take place only after a full disengagement from all friction points.

 

India would like to retain the military advantages that it has taken in the area. It’s not yet clear how the disengagement process will be worked out. India would be keen to avoid a Doklam-like situation, where the Chinese built up after the disengagement in the stand-off areas.

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Special COVID-19 probe crippled by infections among CCD sleuths: AG calls for new police team

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Brandix Apparel Limited yesterday (29) said that the company would fully cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigation ordered by the Attorney General (AG). A spokesperson for the company said so when The Island sought a clarification with regard to AG Dappula de Livera, PC, directing the police to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged lapses on the part of the company as well as those officials leading to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minuwangoda eruption, which happened in the first week of October is widely believed to be the cause of the fast expanding Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the police had contacted the Brandix management as regards the investigation and sought access to Brandix management and workers at its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility as well as records at the Minuwangoda facility, the spokesperson said: “We will work with the relevant authorities in this regard”.

The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) tasked with the probe has suffered a serious setback due to a section of its officers being tested positive for COVID-19. Authoritative sources said that the CCD lacked sufficient strength to carry out the investigation.

AG de Livera early this week told DIG Ajith Rohana that a progress report should be submitted to him by or before Nov. 13.

Sources said that the badly depleted CCD was not in a position to conduct the high-profile investigation, in addition to other ongoing inquiries. The AG has directed the Acting IGP to constitute a special team of law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation. Sources acknowledged the urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the far worse second corona wave. Sources said that the AG issued fresh instructions in that regard after the crisis in the CCD was brought to his notice.

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Most garment workers under self-quarantine left to fend for themselves

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of garment workers who were undergoing self-quarantine in Minuwangoda did not receive any assistance, Chamila Thushari of the Dabindu Collective, a labour organisation that works with garment workers, told The Island yesterday.

She said that those who were under self-quarantine did not have money to purchase food and even those who were willing to help could not reach them.

“Some of them have received food parcels from their work places but that is not adequate. Most others have not received any assistance. Matters will only get worse after curfew is imposed throughout the Western Province,” Thushari said.

Most of these workers are undergoing self-quarantine at their boarding places, which also house individuals who still work in garment factories. “Although there is a curfew, they can go to work. These are perfect incubators for the virus,” she said.

Thushari said that every day between 20-30 workers under self-quarantine, tested positive for COVID-19.

There were no public health inspectors to monitor the boarding houses of garment workers to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures were being followed, she said.

“Not even Grama Niladaris visit them,” Chamila said.

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SJB requests separate seats for its dissidents

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Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has written to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requesting him to make arrangements to provide separate seats to the nine MPs who had voted with the government for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution recently.

The letter dated yesterday said that the SJB parliamentary group had decided to expel MPs Diana Gamage, A. Aravind Kumar, Ishak Rahuman, Faisal Cassim, H. M. M. Haris, M.S. Thowfeeq, Nazeer Ahmed, A.A.S.M. Raheem and S.M.M. Musharaf and it requests the Speaker to make separate seating arrangements for these MPs in the Chamber.

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