By N. C. Bipindra
New Delhi: India today made it clear that it took only defensive action against China between Aug. 29 and 31 in the Chushul sector in eastern Ladakh, where their armies are in a face-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) for the last four months now.
Responding to questions from the media, India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the Chinese side had violated the understanding and engaged in provocative military manoeuvres in an attempt to change the status quo in the South bank are of Pongong Tso, a lake in eastern Ladakh.
“The Chinese side…violated this understanding and engaged in provocative military maneuvers in the late night of 29th and on 30th August in an attempt to change the status quo in the South bank area of Pangong Lake,” Srivastava said.
“As stated yesterday (Aug. 31) by (the) Indian Army, the Indian side responded to these provocative actions and took appropriate defensive measures along the LAC in order to safeguard our interests and defend the territorial integrity,” he said.
“Furthermore, yesterday, on 31st August, even as the ground commanders of the two sides were in discussions to de-escalate the situation, the Chinese troops again engaged in provocative action. Due to the timely defensive action, the Indian side was able to prevent these attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo.”
Srivastava pointed out that India and China have been closely engaged through diplomatic and military channels over the past three months to resolve the situation along the India-China border.
He recalled that earlier, the two foreign ministers and the two special representatives on the boundary question had agreed that the situation should be handled in a responsible manner and either side should not take any provocative action or escalate matters and ensure peace and tranquility as per bilateral agreements and protocol.
“The actions and behavior of the Chinese side since earlier this year along the LAC has been in clear violation of the bilateral agreements and protocols concluded between the two countries to ensure peace and tranquility on the border,” the Indian spokesperson said.
“Such actions are also in complete disregard to the understandings reached between the two Foreign Ministers as also the Special Representatives.
“We have taken up the matter of recent provocative and aggressive actions with Chinese side through both diplomatic and military channels and have urged them to discipline and control their front line troops from undertaking such provocative actions.
“The Indian side is firmly committed to resolve all outstanding issues along the LAC in the western sector through peaceful dialogue. In this context, we expect the Chinese side to sincerely abide by the understanding reached earlier and earnestly work with the India to resolve the situation and to restore peace and tranquility in the border areas.”
Meanwhile, Ji Rong, spokesperson of the Embassy of People’s Republic of China in New Delhi, in a statement, claimed that “on Aug. 31, (the) Indian troops violated the consensus reached in previous multi-level engagements and negotiations between China and India, illegally trespassed the Line of Actual Control again at the southern bank of the Pangong Tso lake and near the Reqin Pass in the western sector of China-India border, and conducted flagrant provocations, which again stirred tension in the border areas.”
She again claimed that “India’s move has grossly violated China’s territorial sovereignty, seriously violated relevant agreements, protocols and important consensus reached between the two countries, and severely damaged peace and tranquility along the China-India border areas. What India has done runs counter to the efforts made by both sides for a period of time to ease and cool down the situation on the ground, and China is resolutely opposed to this.”
China has made solemn representations to the Indian side, urged the Indian side to strictly control and restrain its front line troops, earnestly honor its commitments, immediately stop all the provocative actions, immediately withdraw its troops illegally trespassing the Line of Actual Control, immediately stop any actions leading to the escalation and complication of the situation, she added.
At Chushul, India and China military leaders held a second round of talks to thrash out a mutually agreeable solution to the conflict that has been in progress in eastern Ladakh since early May this year, particularly in the context of the provocative military action by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the counter move by the Indian Army in the Chushul sector.
According two Indian Army officers, with direct knowledge of the events of the last three days, the Chinese side had mobilised and occupied the Black Top and Helmet Top areas in the Chushul sector on the South banks of Pongong Tso on Aug. 29 and 30 night.
This provocative action by China was countered by India, which moved it soldiers quickly to secure the entire ridge line at the Reqin Pass, which incidentally falls within the Indian side of the LAC. Essentially, the Indian military action was to prevent the Reqin Pass falling in the hands of the Chinese.
With this India has ensured that it has full control over the Chushul sector and has mobilised additional forces to support the troops already holding the key, tactically important locations in the South banks of Pangong Tso upto the Spanggur Tso, another lake in the sector.