New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday asserted in Parliament that no force in the world can stop Indian soldiers from patrolling the country’s border (Line of Actual Control) in Ladakh region.
Making a statement in Rajya Sabha on the situation in eastern Ladakh, he said that China has amassed troops on the border and in response India has made appropriate counter deployment.
China, he said, made provocative military manoeuvres on August 29/30 in an attempt to change the status quo in the south bank area of Pangong Lake at a time when the two sides were engaged in military and diplomatic talks.
The defence minister said there is a mismatch between what China says and does. “Unki kathani aur karni alag hai (their actions are at variance with their words),” he said.
“No force in the world can stop Indian soldiers from patrolling. Our soldiers have sacrificed their lives only for this,” he added.
Rajnath was responding to a clarification sought by former defence minister AK Antony on the issue of Indian forces not being allowed to patrol in certain parts of the Galwan valley.
“I want to make it clear (that) skirmishes and face-off are because of this (issue of patrolling),” Rajnath replied, adding that the patrolling pattern is traditional and well defined.
“China does not accept the customary and traditional alignment of the boundary between India and China,” he said.
“We believe that this alignment is based on well-established geographical principles confirmed by treaties and agreements, as well as historical usage and practice, well-known for centuries to both sides,” Rajnath said.
“The Chinese position, however, is that the boundary between the two countries has not been formally delimited, that there exists a traditional customary line formed by the extent of jurisdiction that they claim was exercised historically by each side, and that the two sides have different interpretations of the position of the traditional customary line,” he said.
China, he said, continues to be in illegal occupation of about 38,000 square kilometers of Ladakh. Besides it also holds 5,180 sq km of Indian territory in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir that Pakistan had illegally ceded in 1963.
“I would like to mention here that as yet there is no commonly delineated Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the border areas between India and China and there is no common perception of
the entire LAC,” he said.
On the latest situation, the minister said India has noticed a build-up of troops and armaments by China in border areas adjacent to Eastern Ladakh since April.
“In early May, the Chinese side had taken action to hinder the normal, traditional patrolling pattern of our troops in the Galwan Valley area, which resulted in a face-off,” he said.
Even as this situation was being addressed by the Ground Commanders, in mid-May the Chinese side made several attempts to transgress the LAC in other parts of the Western Sector.
This included Kongka La, Gogra and North Bank of Pangong Lake, he said.
“These attempts were detected early and consequently responded to appropriately by our armed forces,” he said.
“We made it clear to the Chinese side both through diplomatic and military channels that China was, by such actions, attempting to unilaterally alter the status quo. It was categorically
conveyed that this was unacceptable,” Singh said.
Senior commanders of the two sides in a meeting on June 6 agreed on a process of disengagement that involved reciprocal actions, he said.
“Both sides also agreed to respect and abide by the LAC and not undertake any activity to alter the status quo. However, in violation of this, the Chinese side created a violent face-off on June 15 at Galwan. Our brave soldiers laid down their lives and also inflicted costs including casualties on the Chinese side,” he said.
Indian armed forces have during these provocative actions maintained sainyam (restraint) and displayed shaurya (valour), he said.
Giving details of the talks held with China to de-escalate the tension, the minister said India pressed for three key principles — strictly respecting the LAC, not attempting to alter the status
quo unilaterally, and abiding by all agreements and understandings between the two sides.
The Chinese side, on its part, took the position that the situation should be handled in a responsible manner and ensure peace and tranquillity as per bilateral agreements and protocol.
China made provocative military manoeuvres late last month even when these discussions were on, Rajnath said.