In the first official acknowledgement of a troop build-up along the disputed border with China, defence minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said a significant number of Chinese troops were present along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh and the Indian Army had matched the neighbour’s military moves. This came on a day the two sides met again to ease the tensions.
“Achchhi khaasi sankhya mein Cheen ke log bhi aa gaye hain lekin Bharat ne bhi apni taraf se jo kuch bhi karna chahiye…kiya hai. (Chinese soldiers are there in large numbers (on the LAC) but India has also done what it had to,” Singh told a news channel when asked to comment on the ground situation along the border. Singh’s comments came against the backdrop of silence on the issue from the external affairs ministry. The defence minister said differing perceptions of the LAC had led to the standoff, and talks were on at the diplomatic and military levels to break the stalemate.
Singh told CNN-News 18 that a meeting between senior Indian and Chinese military officials would take place on June 6 to discuss the border situation.
Meanwhile, Indian and Chinese officials, led by major generals, met on Tuesday to ease border tensions but there was no breakthrough, officials said. This was the third meeting between two-star ranked officers.
China has marshalled close to 5,000 soldiers and deployed tanks and artillery guns on its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh sector where India has also sent military reinforcements and matched the neighbour’s military moves, as reported by Hindustan Times on May 26.
Northern Army commander Lieutenant General YK Joshi on Tuesday visited Leh, the headquarters of 14 Corps in Ladakh, for a security review of the sensitive sector at a time when Indian and Chinese soldiers are eyeball-to-eyeball at four locations along the LAC.
Several rounds of talks between local military commanders have failed to end the standoff that began with a violent confrontation between rival patrols near Pangong Tso four weeks ago.
Around 250 soldiers from the two countries clashed near Pangong Tso on the night of May 5-6 with the scuffle leaving scores of troops injured. While an immediate flare-up was avoided as both armies stuck to protocols to resolve the situation, tensions swiftly spread to other pockets along the LAC.