Updated: September 8, 2020 10:33:03 pm
The Indian Army has countered China’s claim that it crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh on Monday, or fired any shots. Instead, it has blamed China for provocative activities and trying to escalate the tensions. The Army blamed China’s Western Theatre Command, which is responsible for the border with India, for trying to mislead its domestic as well as the international audience through its statement that was issued late Monday night.
It said in a statement on Tuesday morning the Army said that “India, while is committed to disengagement and de-escalating the situation on the LAC, China continues to undertake provocative activities to escalate”.
“At no stage has the Indian Army transgressed across the LAC or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing, the Army asserted, in its Tuesday’s statement.
Instead, it said, “it is the PLA that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres, while engagement at military, diplomatic and political level is in progress”.
Regarding the events of September 7, the Army said “it was the PLA troops who were attempting to close-in with one of our forward positions along the LAC and when dissuaded by own troops, PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate own troops”. The Army added that “despite the grave provocation, own troops exercised great restraint and behaved in a mature and responsible manner”.
“The Indian Army is committed to maintaining peace and tranquility, however is also determined to protect national integrity and sovereignty at all costs. The statement by the Western Theatre Command is an attempt to mislead their domestic and international audience.”
The statements by both sides pointed out to an altercation in the southern bank of Pangong Tso river, in a situation when the tensions are already heightened after the Indian Army had moved to occupy certain ridges and passes in the Chushul sector, pre-empting the Chinese troops, in an operation between 29 August and 31 August.
Late on Monday night, after 1:30 in the morning Beijing time, a spokesperson for the PLA’s Western Theatre Command had said in a statement “on the provocation of the Indian army’s illegal crossing of the line again”. The statement had mentioned that the Indian Army had crossed the LAC and “entered Bangong Hunan, the western section of the Sino-Indian border”.
“During the operation, the Indian army blatantly fired threats to the patrol personnel of the Chinese border guards who had made representations, and the Chinese border guards were forced to take countermeasures to stabilise the situation on the ground. The Indian actions seriously violated the relevant agreements and agreements between China and India, pushing up regional tensions, and easily causing misunderstandings and misjudgments,” it had said.
It also mentioned that these were “serious military provocations and are of very bad nature” and requested the Indian side “to immediately stop dangerous actions, immediately withdraw cross-line personnel, strictly restrain front-line troops, and strictly investigate and punish personnel who fired shots to ensure that similar incidents do not occur again”. The PLA’s statement had also said that its “troops will resolutely perform their duties and missions and resolutely defend national territorial sovereignty”.
The Indian Army has been categorical in all its communication that all actions have been taken along the LAC, rather than crossing it as claimed by China earlier as well. On September 4, Army Chief General MM Naravane, while reviewing operational preparedness in eastern Ladakh, said the situation along the Line of Actual Control was “tense”.
While both the sides have blamed each other, the statements confirm that the troops had come in close contact on Monday evening in the south bank of Pangong Tso.
Exactly a week ago, Indian troops occupied strategic heights on the south bank of Pangong Tso and Rechin La, giving them a commanding view of the terrain in the Chushul sector. Troops can keep an eye on China’s Moldo garrison and prevent any attempt to ingress via the Spanggur Gap.
He said Indian actions had only been along the LAC – this was his way of countering Chinese allegations that Indian troops crossed the LAC, a charge the PLA repeated Monday night.
With the occupation of these heights, the Indians hope to make the Chinese return to the disengagement talks table. The PLA has been reluctant to step back from the north bank of Pangong Tso and Gogra Post after agreeing to total disengagement.
Last week defence ministers of India and China had met in Moscow, on the sidelines of the meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Group’s member stated, to discuss the standoff that had begun in early May. The meeting did not result in a positive outcome. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is likely to met China’s Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi later this week, again in Moscow.
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