Nothing but full disengagement at Ladakh border: India tells China

File Photo: Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and Indian national security adviser Ajit Doval meeting.

By Amit Agnihotri

New Delhi: Full disengagement and complete restoration of peace along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh is what China should work on, India today told the Asian dragon, as Beijing has failed to honour a mutually-agreed de-escalation plan.

“The two Special Representatives had agreed at early and complete disengagement and de-escalation, and full restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

He was referring to the July 5 talks between the two Special Representatives on the India-China border issue, India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, following which the two sides had started pulling back of troops along the de facto border.

China has not honoured its word and has refused to pull back troops in the Finger 4 area along the Pangong Tso and at the Depsang plains in eastern parts of Ladakh.

India’s short but terse response came days after the fifth meeting of the senior military commanders of the two sides on Aug. 3 reviewed the process of disengagement on Sunday but did not make much headway.

On August 4, the China Study Group, which has Doval and Minister of External Affairs Dr S. Jaishankar as its members, had reviewed the disengagement process and the issues raised at the meeting of senior army commanders.

Such high-level consultations are taking place, as both sides have deployed around 30,000 troops each along the LAC in a confrontation, which has worried the world powers. The border standoff started in May when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army troopers violated the LAC.

India’s attempts to stop them led to the deadly June 15 clash in which 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives and over 40 PLA troops suffered casualties, though China has kept mum over the issue.

The Indian troop deployment along the LAC in eastern Ladakh is only to match the Chinese aggression. However, given Chinese stubbornness in implementing a de-escalation plan, the Indian Army is prepared for a long haul as the South-Asian country contemplates its future moves.

Yesterday, India had slammed a China move to raise the Kashmir issue at the United Nations Security Council, saying it firmly rejects the Asian dragon’s interference in its internal affairs.

“We have noted that China initiated a discussion in the UN Security Council on issues pertaining to the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. This was not the first time that China has sought to raise a subject that is solely an internal matter of India.

“As on such previous occasions, this attempt too met with little support from the international community. We firmly reject China’s interference in our internal affairs and urge it to draw proper conclusions from such an infructuous attempt,” the MEA had said in a statement.

China’s move coincided with the first anniversary of the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir, which was made a Union Territory on Aug. 5 last year after the Modi government scrapped Article 370 of the Constitution of India, which had prevented the area’s complete integration into the national mainstream.

As part of the exercise, the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated and Ladakh too became a Union Territory.

Coming amid the ongoing bitter eastern Ladakh border stand-off with India, China’s move was seen as yet another attempt to internationalise the Kashmir issue, though such moves have been rejected by the UNSC in the past.

India had also rebuffed Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson’s remarks yesterday that the South Asian country’s changes to the status of Jammu and Kashmir were “illegal and invalid”. India said the Asian giant should keep off the internal affairs of other countries.

India’s move to name Ladakh a Union Territory had miffed China, which saw the decision as a potential messaging to its illegal territorial claims in Aksai Chin in the Ladakh region.

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