Repeated incursions by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China into Indian territory this year has been in “complete disregard of all “mutually agreed norms”, the foreign ministry said today in a strongly-worded statement. This shredded Chinese claims that India was to blame for last week’s violence at the Galwan Valley in which 70 soldiers, including 20 Indians, died or sustained grievous injuries.
In a hard-hitting statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, “Since early May, the Chinese side has been amassing a large contingent of troops and armaments along the LAC”.
Army sources say they did not disengage on the ground since lieutenant general-level talks earlier this week and that the entire process of disengagement could take weeks, if not months.
There are no dates, the sources said, which have been established for the next round of military talks. The talks are linked to China taking some positive steps on the ground.
In its statement, the MEA said: ”Unfortunately, we have experienced in the last many years’ obstruction to patrolling that often accompany efforts to unilaterally change the status quo… The deployment of a large body of troops and changes in behaviour has also been aggravated by unjustified and untenable claims. The recent shift in the Chinese position on the Galwan Valley is one example.”
”While there have been occasional departures in the past, the conduct of Chinese forces this year has been in complete disregard of all mutually agreed norms… The Indian side has never undertaken any actions across the LoAC and has never attempted to unilaterally change the status quo,” the ministry said today.
“At the heart of the matter is that since early May, the Chinese side has been amassing a large contingent of troops and armaments along the LoAC. This is not in accordance with the provisions of our various bilateral agreements, especially the key 1993 agreement… While there have been occasional departures in the past, the conduct of Chinese forces this year has been in complete disregard of all mutually agreed norms,” the statement read.
High-resolution satellite images from River Galwan and its valley appear to show the presence of Chinese structures on both sides of the Line of Actual Control (LoAC). The images followed the agreement between India and China to start the process of disengagement along the LoAC in Ladakh. The location is near Patrolling Point 14, where 20 Indian jawans were killed in action and more than 50 Chinese soldiers died or were injured on 15 June.
On the next patrolling point, China has put up large tents and have been camping for almost a month. At patrolling point 17, both the sides mobilised large troops. On Pangong Lake, Chinese troops have moved up to “Finger 4” — the name given to one of the eight cliffs jutting out of the Sirijap range — and had brought over 120 vehicles and dozen boats.
Since April, satellites caught in their camera frames intrusions by the army of China in the ‘fingers region’ on the banks of the Pangong Lake, the Hot Springs area (near the Army’s post at Gogra), the Galwan Valley and the Depsang Plains further to the north.
After the 15 June clash, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had suggested in his talks with his counterpart in China that Beijing had to “reassess its actions and take corrective steps”.
Army sources turned down the request to comment on a report of a Chinese incursion in the Depsang plains region. India takes this intrusion as another Chinese attempt to push the LoAC further west on the disputed boundary, close to the new airstrip of Daulat Beg Oldie that’s crucial to India.
India has decided to increase its strength along 3,488-km of LoAC. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) is increasing the number of its posts with men and material. The ITBP has decided to place a company instead of a platoon to assist the army at all patrolling points. There are 30 jawans normally in a platoon, while a company has around 100 jawans.
At an all-party meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said “neither is anyone inside our territory nor are any of our posts captured” — a comment that sparked controversy. The INC repeatedly alleged that the prime minister had surrendered Indian territory to China.
The government said, alleging “mischievous interpretation of his words”, Prime Minister Modi’s observations “pertained to the situation as a consequence of the bravery of our armed forces”. The sacrifice of the soldiers foiled the Chinese attempts “to erect structures and also cleared the attempted transgression at this point of the LAC on that day… What is Indian territory is clear from the map of India. This government is strongly and resolutely committed to that,” the government said.