Border standoff: India says China should work with it for complete disengagement in eastern Ladakh
New Delhi, Sep. 17 (PTI): India on Thursday said China should take forward the process for complete disengagement of troops from all friction points including the Pangong lake area in eastern Ladakh, and asked it not to make unilateral attempts to change the status quo along the Line of Actual Control(LAC).
At a media briefing, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said both sides should focus on easing tensions in the friction areas by refraining from any actions that may lead to an escalation in the situation.
There have been at least three attempts by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army(PLA) to “intimidate” Indian troops along the northern and southern bank of Pangong lake area in the last three weeks where even shots were fired in the air for the first time at the LAC in 45 years.
“The Chinese side should sincerely work with the Indian side for complete disengagement at the earliest from all friction areas including Pangong Lake as well as de-escalation in border areas in accordance with the bilateral agreements and protocols on maintenance of peace and tranquility in border areas,” Srivastava said.
The assertion by Srivastava came in the backdrop of remarks by Chinese foreign ministry on Wednesday that it was for India to initiate the process to disengage and restore peace along the border areas.
“We hope the Chinese side will strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control and not make further attempts to unilaterally change status quo,” said Srivastava.
The MEA spokesperson also referred to the “consensus” arrived at separate meetings between defence ministers and foreign ministers of the two countries in Moscow on September 4 and September 10 respectively.
“There was consensus between the ministers of the two sides, during both the meetings, that there should be quick and complete disengagement of troops from all friction areas along the LAC,” Srivastava said.
“Both sides should, therefore, focus on easing tensions in the friction areas by refraining from any actions that may lead to an escalation in the situation. This requires strict adherence to the bilateral agreements and protocols and not making unilateral attempts to change the status quo,” he added.
The MEA spokesperson also referred to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s comments on the border standoff in Parliament on Wednesday and Thursday, saying he has categorically stated that India is committed to a peaceful dialogue with the Chinese side, including through diplomatic and military channels.
Both sides reached a five-point agreement to resolve the border row at a meeting between External Affairs S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on September 10 on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) meet in Moscow.
The agreement included measures like quick disengagement of troops, avoiding action that could escalate tensions, adherence to all agreements and protocols on border management and steps to restore peace along the LAC.
Tension in eastern Ladakh increased manifold following the Galwan Valley clashes on June 15 in which 20 Indian Army soldiers were killed. The Chinese side too suffered casualties, but it is yet to give out the details.
The situation deteriorated again after China unsuccessfully attempted to occupy Indian territory in the southern bank of Pangong lake on the intervening night of August 29 and 30.
India occupied a number of strategic heights on the southern bank of Pangong lake and strengthened its presence in Finger 2 and Finger 3 areas in the region to thwart any Chinese actions. China has been occupying the areas between Finger 4 and Finger 8. The mountain spurs in the area is called Fingers.
China has strongly objected to India’s move. However, India has maintained that the heights are on its side of the LAC.
India has also rushed in additional troops and weapons to the sensitive region following China’s transgression attempts.
Following China’s fresh attempts to change the status quo in the southern bank of Pangong lake, India has further bolstered its military presence in the region.