India on Thursday held China responsible for the violent faceoff at the Galwan Valley in Ladakh and accused it of amassing troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in violation of all agreed norms.
The Indian position on the months-old standoff was outlined in a lengthy and sharply worded statement from the external affairs ministry as tensions simmered due to the continuing Chinese military build-up in several sections of the LAC, especially in Ladakh, which has been the focus of the stand-off.
Explaining the context of the standoff and the issues the two sides are trying to address, ministry of external affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in a statement: “At the heart of the matter is that since early May, the Chinese side has been amassing a large contingent of troops and armaments along the LAC. This is not in accordance with the provisions of our various bilateral agreements, especially the key 1993 Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas.”
This agreement states each side will keep its military forces in areas along the LAC to a “minimum level compatible with friendly and good neighbourly relations”. Following the Chinese build-up, India had to make “counter deployments and the resulting tension has thereafter expressed itself”.
New Delhi reiterated that it has been patrolling in Galwan Valley for a long time, and has never attempted to change the status quo. However, it added the same has not been reciprocated by the Chinese side.
Both sides had developed patterns of patrolling over many years and it is the “reasonable expectation that patrols will not be obstructed in the discharge of their legitimate duties”. However, the Indian side has experienced obstruction to patrolling that is often accompanied by efforts to unilaterally change the status quo along the LAC.
Indian troops are fully familiar with the LAC’s alignment in all sectors and abide scrupulously by it. They have also patrolled all along the LAC, including in Galwan Valley, “for a long time”, the statement said.
Yesterday, China, for the first time, admitted casualties on its side in the violent brawl with Indian soldiers, but claimed that “numbers were not very high”. On the other hand, 20 Indian soldiers died defending their country on June 15.
On Tuesday, Zhao Lijian, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, had dismissed as “fake news” a statement by minister VK Singh that the PLA could have suffered double the number of casualties compared to the Indian army.
China on Wednesday launched a twin diplomatic attack against India with its foreign and defence ministries blaming New Delhi for the Galwan Valley clash and alleging that the external affairs ministry and Indian media were spreading false information about the incident.
On June 20, India, for the second time, rejected China’s claim on Galwan Valley in Ladakh and reiterated that the violent clash of June 15 was triggered by Chinese efforts to build structures on the Indian side of the LAC.
The MEA spoksperson had said the position with regard to Galwan Valley was “historically clear”. He added, “Attempts by the Chinese side to now advance exaggerated and untenable claims with regard to Line of Actual Control (LAC) there are not acceptable. They are not in accordance with China’s own position in the past.”