Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday told the Parliament that China had mobilised large number of troops, weapons and ammunition on the Line of Actual control in Eastern Ladakh, violating all bilateral agreements in the process. He also said while India wanted a peaceful resolution to the current crisis, it was ready for all situations.
Addressing the Lok Sabha on the issue of standoff with Chinese forces in Ladakh, Singh said, “According to the current situation, China has mobilised a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC as well as in the depth areas. There are several frictions areas in Eastern Ladakh including Gogra, Kongka La and North and south Banks of Pangong Tso. In response, our forces have made appropriate counter deployments in these areas, so that India’s security interests can be fully protected.”
Singh said through its provocative, violent and aggressive actions since April-May, China had violated all bilateral agreements to maintain peace and tranquillity on the borders. Follow Parliament LIVE Updates
Congress MPs protesting in front the Mahatma Gandhi statue after they walked out of Lok Sabha. They say they were not allowed to speak after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement on #ChinaIndiaFaceoff @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/ZEYp0dgsl4
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“The Chinese actions reflect a complete disregard of our bilateral agreements. Amassing troops in large numbers by China is in violation of agreements of 1993 and 1996. To respect the LAC and to strictly follow it is the basis of peace and tranquillity in the border region. Our armed forces follow it fully. But China has not done so. Because of this there have been face-offs and frictions on the LAC from time to time. There are detailed procedures for resolving such face offs in the agreements. The recent violent conduct of the Chinese forces is a violation of all agreements,” Singh said.
Congress MPs staged a walkout of the Lok Sabha and held a protest in front the Mahatma Gandhi statue on not being allowed to speak on the Sino-India border issue. Earlier, during the Business Advisory Committee meeting, Congress had demanded a discussion on the issue of stand-off between China and India in Eastern Ladakh. The government, however, declined to honour it citing sensitivity of the issue.
The defence minister assured the house that the armed forces would face the current challenge successfully. “As we all know earlier too there have been standoffs which were resolved peacefully. Although, this year it is different, still we are committed to peaceful resolution. But I want to tell the house we are ready to face all situations,” Singh said.
During his speech, Singh described in brief detail how the crisis precipitated and all the diplomatic and military steps taken by India, but he refused to divulge operational details due to sensitivities involved. “In the current situation there are sensitive operational issues involved. So, even if I want, I can’t reveal details. I am sure the house will understand this sensitivity,” he said.
The Opposition benches protested and sought clarifications over the remarks. However, Speaker Om Birla did not allow any interruptions.
Singh spoke about recent diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue. “I met my Chinese counterpart on September 4 in Moscow in this regard. I put forth our concerns very clearly. It was related to their massive troop movement, their aggressive behaviour and unilaterally changing status quo. I also made it clear that we want to resolve this issue peacefully and that China must work with us on this. But I also made it clear that we are determined to protect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.
He also spoke about External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, following which the two countries for the first time came out with a joint statement on the issue.
“My colleague Foreign Minister S Jaishankar met the Chinese foreign minister on September 10. The two sides reached an agreement that if China sincerely and faithfully implements the agreements, complete disengagement can be achieved and peace can return to the borders,” Singh said.
Singh said the forces saw a significant increase in the strength of Chinese troops and armaments in eastern Ladakh since April. In the beginning of May, in the Galwan Valley, China tried “to obstruct the normal traditional patrolling patterns of our forces”.
According to Singh, dialogues were held by ground commanders to resolve this but in the middle of May, China attempted transgressions at several places in the western sector, including at include Kongka La, Ghogra and North Bank of Pangong Tso.
“Through diplomatic channels we made China aware that such movements were an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo. We also made it clear that this attempt was totally unacceptable to us,” Singh said.
Singh said the June 6 meeting had agreed upon disengagement through reciprocal action, but China created a situation of a violent face off in Galwan on June 15 when “our brave soldiers made the supreme sacrifice but also inflicted considerable damage on the Chinese side”.
“Through this entire conflict, our forces have exhibited patience where necessary and valour where required. I urge the house that the valour of our brave jawans must be highly appreciated,” Singh said.
Singh said in discussions with China, three key principles defined India’s approach. “First, both parties must respect LAC and strictly follow it. Second, no one should attempt to violate status quo. And third, all agreements and understanding between the two sides must be followed,” he said.
The Chinese side have maintained the position that the situation must be handled responsibly and peace and tranquillity must be established on the basis of bilateral agreements, he added.
“While these discussions were on, on the night of August 29-30, provocative military action was carried out in an attempt to change the status quo on the south bank of Pangong Tso. But once again our armed forces foiled their plans through timely and strong action,” Singh said.
Singh said there was a well-established mechanism for coordination between different intelligence agencies and inputs were regularly being shared with armed forces. He also said that the government was improving border infrastructure and its budget has increased more than twice compared to the past.
“The two countries had held dialogues over it during the 1950s and 1960s. But no mutually acceptable solution could be found. The house is aware that China has illegally occupied 38,000 sq km of our land in Ladakh. Apart from this, in 1963, on the basis of a so called boundary agreement, Pakistan has handed over 5,180 sq km of land in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir to China illegally. China also claims 90,000 sq km of bordering areas in Arunachal Pradesh as its own,” he said.
Singh further said both India and China agreed that the boundary issue was complicated. “We believe it will require patience and a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to this issue must be found through peaceful dialogue. The two countries have accepted that peace and tranquillity on the border is necessary for the growth of bilateral relations,” Singh said.