In the Modi government’s first statement on military tensions across the LAC in Parliament, Singh spoke for nearly 25 minutes, saying China had repeatedly refused to accept customary and traditional borders, had previously seized 38,000 square kilometers in Ladakh, claimed 90,000 square kilometers in Arunachal Pradesh and was also given land illegally in PoK from Pakistan.
He blamed China for trying to unilaterally change the status quo and said while India wanted to peacefully resolve the ongoing military confrontation, it was fully prepared to deal with any situation.
Singh said all measures have been taken for Indian troops stationed on high altitude terrain, indicating India’s readiness to dig. He said India had broken off repeated Chinese interventions and said he and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar had told their Chinese counterparts in recent meetings that the violent actions, including the Galvan clash, were a violation of the agreements reached in 1993 and 1996. As India and China’s perceptions of the LAC overlapped, there were protocols governing how troops should deal with the confrontations that China had set aside.
“So far, the Chinese side has mobilized a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC, as well as in remote areas,” Singh said, adding that India had also counter-mobilized.
He also spoke about the latest action August 29-30, saying a new action by Chinese troops to change the status quo on the south coast of Pangong Tso was strongly opposed. The reference was to the success of the Indian Army in taking control of the main heights on the south coast which further neutralized the advantage the PLA had after surprising India by conquering the Finger ridge line 4-8.
Singh acknowledged that the situation was serious when he said that the current confrontation, in terms of the degree of deployment of rival troops, was quite unprecedented compared to previous confrontations. He acknowledged that India was facing a challenge in eastern Ladakh this time and did not elaborate on the current ground situation, saying it could not enter into sensitive operational issues.
Although the situation this year is very different, both in terms of the degree of troops involved and the number of friction points, we remain committed to the peaceful resolution of the current situation. At the same time, the Chamber can ensure that we remain prepared to deal with all contingencies, said the Minister of Defense.
Stressing that no one should doubt India’s determination to protect its borders, Singh said the armed forces have made appropriate counter-deployments to the friction zones in eastern Ladakh, which included Gogra, Kongka La and the northern coasts. and south of Pangong Tso.
The military confrontation has seen over 50,000 soldiers each from both armies as well as tanks, aircraft and other weapons systems piled up within shooting distance of each other along the border in eastern Ladakh for more than four months.
With casualties and gunfire being fired for the first time in 45 years, India has also reinforced its troop positions along the 3,488km Current Control Line (LAC) to Arunachal Pradesh, as previously reported by TOI.
The minister said Col. Santosh Babu and 19 other soldiers had given up their lives after the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) created the violent confrontation in the Galwan Valley on June 15 contrary to all agreements and understandings. But Indian troops also caused huge costs, including casualties, on the Chinese side, he said.
The PLA once again engaged in provocative military maneuvers in an effort to change the status quo on the south coast of Pangong Tso on August 29-30. But again, timely and unwavering action by our armed forces along the LAC prevented such efforts from succeeding, he said.
The conduct of our armed forces during these incidents shows that while they held sayyam (restraint) in the face of provocative actions, they have also equally displayed shaurya (bravery) when required to protect the territorial integrity of India, he added.
The Minister said that China does not accept the customary and traditional extension of the border, which is based on well-established geographical principles, as well as on the historical use and practice known for centuries by both sides.
But the two countries had agreed to maintain peace and tranquility along the border with minimal deployment of forces and strictly adhering to the LAC, through the 1993 and 1996 agreements and other protocols, until the complex border issue was resolved in a fair and acceptable to both.
As a result, China’s recent attempt to unilaterally change the status quo was simply unacceptable and it had become clear to the country through both diplomatic and military channels, he said.
India’s position is that while bilateral relations can continue to develop in parallel with discussions on resolving the border issue, any serious concern in peace and tranquility along the LAC in border areas will have implications for the positive direction of our ties, Singh said.
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