India has said China has made three attempts to change the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in as many days, while firmly rejecting Beijing’s efforts to pin the blame on New Delhi for the spike in tensions over the weekend.
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said China “engaged in provocative military manoeuvres in the late night of 29 and 30 August in an attempt to change the status quo in the South Bank area of Pangong Lake”.
“(The Indian Army) 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 added.
“Furthermore, on 31 August, even as the ground commanders of the two sides were in discussions to de-escalate the situation, 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.”
India has taken up the matter of “recent provocative and aggressive actions” with Beijing through diplomatic and military channels, Srivastava said, adding that India has also “urged them to discipline and control their front-line troops from undertaking such provocative actions”.
China’s actions since May along the LAC have been “in clear violation of the bilateral agreements and protocols concluded between the two countries to ensure peace and tranquillity along the border”.
“Such actions are also in complete disregard to the understandings reached between the two foreign ministers as also the special representatives,” he said, referring to telephone conversations in June and July.
India, he said, was “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 India to resolve the situation and restore peace in the border areas.”
The developments show New Delhi is willing to change the rules of engagement along the border with China, with the Indian Army pushing back against Chinese troops seeking to open a new front along the LAC in Ladakh, besides strengthening its positions along strategic heights in the area.
The moves, seen as defensive by the Indian Army but considered provocative by China, “increases the chances of conflict between the two countries”, said Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. It’s also because the Indian Army has taken up positions along dominating peaks on the Indian side of the LAC, but not very far from the Chinese posts, heightening the chances of a localized conflict, Kondapalli added.
On Tuesday, brigade commanders of the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army met in Chushul on the Indian side of the LAC to defuse tensions after Chinese troops attempted to intrude into Indian territory on the south bank of the Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh. In New Delhi, the spike in tensions—the most serious incident after the violent clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers at Galwan Valley on 15 June—was discussed at a meeting held by defence minister Rajnath Singh, national security adviser Ajit Doval and chief of defence staff Bipin Rawat, besides the three service chiefs.
Indian Army officials said the southern bank of Pangong Tso has always been controlled by India with a major presence of troops, unlike the Finger area on the northern bank, arousing suspicion that China was attempting to open a new front with the aim of changing the status quo on the ground.
(source : Livemint)