Reacting on the recent flare-up of border tensions between India and China, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Thursday rejected China’s allegations that Indian troops crossed over to the Chinese side of the frontier in Ladakh and Sikkim. It asserted that “all Indian activities are entirely on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC)”.
The MEA’s response came after China claimed that the Indian Army had “entered Chinese soil on the Baijing and Lujin duan section of the Sino-Indian border, obstructing the normal patrol of Chinese border troops, and was “attempting to unilaterally change the status quo of border territory”.
The Indian Express has learnt that there has been a movement of troops to eastern Ladakh following the continuing objections of the Chinese to the construction of a road in the Galwan river area, well within Indian territory. The site of the current construction is near the confluence of Shyok and Galwan rivers, some 200 km north of the Pangong Tso lake.
“Any suggestion that Indian troops had undertaken activity across the LAC in the Western Sector or the Sikkim sector is not accurate,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said. “Indian troops are fully familiar with the alignment of the LAC in the India-China border areas and abide by it scrupulously.”
The MEA spokesperson further said, “in fact, it is the Chinese side that has recently undertaken activity hindering India’s normal patrolling patterns” and added that the Indian side has always taken a very responsible approach towards border management. “At the same time, we are deeply committed to ensuring India’s sovereignty and security,” he added.
India, the MEA said, remains firmly committed to work for the common objective of maintenance of peace and tranquillity in border areas in accordance with the consensus reached in Chennai. “This is an essential prerequisite to further development of India-China bilateral relations,” Srivastava said.
The border tensions between India and China renewed after troops of the two sides came to blows near Pangong Tso two weeks ago. The incidents took place in the Naku La sector — it’s a mountain pass in Sikkim at an altitude of over 5000 metres — on May 9, and in a contested area near Pangong Tso, a lake in Ladakh, on the night of May 5-6.
Subsequently, two rounds of talks between Indian and Chinese local military commanders at Pangong Tso turned out to be inconclusive with Beijing warning of “necessary counter-measures”.
The Chinese, sources said, have objected to the construction of a new road, which branches off the Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road along the riverbank towards the LAC.
The Chinese have moved troops to the area, pitched 70-80 tents and parked heavy vehicles and monitoring equipment, not very far from the Indian side. This falls in SSN or sub-sector north under the Army, while areas south to it are in the Hot Springs sector under the ITBP.
“Galwan is not a disputed area between India and China, unlike Pangong Tso. Both sides agree on the LAC and patrol accordingly. There was no transgression by Chinese patrols in the area in the past two years. The issue is the construction of the road, which is well inside our territory, and, therefore, their objection is hard to comprehend,” a source said.
India has relocated additional troops to the area, but they have not been deployed so far at the location.
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