Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to Leh, Ladakh, on Friday morning to review the on-ground security situation amid the border standoff with China and the progress in talks with the Chinese military.
The Prime Minister also interacted with troops and met injured soldiers at the military hospital, in a morale booster for the forces.
He reached Ladakh early in the morning, and was given a joint briefing by the Army, Air Force and the ITBP at one of the forward locations in Nimu. Located at 11,000 feet above sea level, Nimu is among the tough terrains, surrounded by the Zanskar range and on the banks of the Indus.
Modi was accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General MM Naravane for the unannounced visit. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh did not go along with the PM to take stock at the forward locations.
This was the first visit by a member of the Cabinet Committee on Security since the June 15 clash in Ladakh where 20 soldiers were killed in line of duty in a face-off with Chinese troops.
It came just a day after the defence minister had put off his own visit to Ladakh, with sources saying the government was waiting to see if the Chinese would honour the commitments made during the Corps Commander-level talks over three rounds - on June 6, June 22 and June 30.
Officials in the South Block had told News18 that China agreed to "pull back" its troops a bit from Galwan Valley to the Hot Springs area, as a consensus was built to create some distance between Indian and Chinese troops, who are eyeball to eyeball at these flash points, and create a buffer zone to avoid any further escalation.
But the government and the Army is being cautious this time.
"Last time we had issued a rather optimistic statement based on what was agreed upon by Lt Gen Harinder Singh and his Chinese counterpart Maj Gen Lui Lin. And then for the next 10 days there was no movement from the Chinese side to honour their commitment," a senior official said.
"It later emerged that as the two commanders were talking, the Chinese had come into Patrolling Point 14 in Galwan Valley, where the bloody clash took place, and built a wall and put up tents. They say something at meetings but go back and do nothing. We have decided we will not use the word 'dis-engage' till it actually happens on the ground."
Officials said the disengagement process will be long, tedious and in phases. After every step taken back, there will be a verification after which another step will be taken.