New Delhi September 17th
Speaking on the ongoing developments along the LAC in Ladakh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today said that China has illegally occupied 38,000 km of India’s territory in Ladakh as both countries have their own perception of the LAC. Sending a direct message to China and other countries speaking on the bilateral issue, Singh said that “no force in world can stop Indian forces from patrolling on Ladakh border”. Responding to opposition questions on the Chinese not allowing Indian soldiers to patrol traditional posts, he said: “That is the reason for our fight with China.”
Responding to Congress member AK Antony’s comment on Indian soldiers being pushed back from traditional patrolling points, Singh assured the Rajya Sabha that there would be no change in patrolling patterns in eastern Ladakh, the site of the dispute. Speaking on the border issue in the Upper House, Singh further said that China also claims approximately 90,000 sq kms of Indian territory in the Eastern Sector of the India-China boundary in Arunachal Pradesh.
“China continues to be in illegal occupation of approx 38,000 sq km in the Union Territory of Ladakh. In addition, under the so-called Sino-Pakistan ‘Boundary Agreement’ of 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq km of Indian territory in PoK to China,” he said. Speaking on the India-China skirmishes in late May, Singh said that it was agreed at the commanders’ level meeting that “status quo at LAC will be respected, but China violated the agreement and initiated the Galwan clash.”
He said that thw Indian troops demonstrated restrain and valour, as was necessitated during the face-off in Ladakh. “Conduct of our armed forces throughout these incidents shows that while they maintained ‘Sayyam’ in face of provocative actions, they also equally displayed ‘Shaurya’ when required to protect territorial integrity of India,” he said. The defence minister said that China attempted to change the status quo along the LAC with its provocative military manoeuvres late last month and that there is a mismatch between what Beijing says and does. He said India wants a peaceful solution to the boundary issue, but will not shy away from any action required to defend the sovereignty of the country.
While the two sides were engaged in diplomatic and military dialogues, Singh said the “Chinese side again engaged in provocative military manoeuvres on the night of 29th and 30th August in an attempt to change the status quo in the South Bank area of Pangong Lake”. “But yet again, timely and firm actions by our armed forces along the LAC prevented such attempts from succeeding,” he said, adding that, “Unki kathani aur karni alag hai (their actions are at variance with their words”.
Singh acknowledged the fact that China continues to enhance its border capabilities with infrastructural developments, adding that he discussed the issue with his Chinese counterpart in the recent meeting in Moscow. “India too has invested heavily in border infrastructure in recent years,” he said.
“The situation this year is very different both in terms of scale of troops involved and number of friction points. We do remain committed to peaceful resolution of the current situation. At the same time, we remain prepared to deal with all contingencies,” the minister said.
Singh also said that he cannot reveal the details of “sensitive operational issues”, hoping that the Upper House will understand the sensitivity of the matter. He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the troops deployed along the LAC in Ladakh sent a clear message that the entire country stands with its soldiers. The Congress-led Opposition express solidarity with the soldiers martyred in the Galwan Valley clash and said that they stand stand with the government on the China issue.