Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday, 17 September, made a statement in the Rajya Sabha on the India-China border tensions, saying that Chinese actions at the border reflect a disregard of various bilateral agreements between the two nations, such as the 1993 and 1996 agreements.
Singh said that while India’s armed forces abide scrupulously by the agreements, this has not been reciprocated by the Chinese side.
“We have informed China through diplomatic and military channels that China’s transgressions along the LAC will not be accepted by India,” Singh said.
“On 15 June, Colonel Santosh Babu, along with his 19 brave soldiers, made the supreme sacrifice in Galwan Valley towards the cause of defending the territorial integrity of India. Our PM himself went to Ladakh to boost morale of forces,” Singh said in the Upper House on Thursday.
The minister said that China continues to be in illegal occupation of approximately 38,000 sq kms in the Union Territory of Ladakh.
It also claims about 90,000 sq km of Indian territory in the eastern sector of the India-China boundary in Arunachal Pradesh, he added.
Singh also said that there was a mismatch between what China says and what its actions are.
He pointed out that while the two sides were engaged in diplomatic and military dialogues, the Chinese side engaged in “provocative military manoeuvres” but were prevented from succeeding by “timely and firm actions” by India’s armed forces.
‘Want Peaceful Resolution, But Prepared to Deal With Contingencies’
Singh said that India feels that bilateral relations with China could be improved and a discussion on LAC could happen simultaneously, but added that any attempt to disrupt peace and tranquility at the LAC would hamper these efforts.
“Both India and China have formally agreed that the boundary debate is a complex issue which requires patience and have committed to seeking a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution through dialogue and peaceful negotiations,” he said, adding that both sides agree that maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas is essential in the interim.
"“The situation this year is very different both in terms of the 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.”" - Rajnath Singh
"In the present situation, there are sensitive operational issues which I cannot detail. I hope the House will understand the sensitivity of the matter," Singh added.
He also said that China, in last many decades has undertaken significant infrastructure construction activity to enhance its deployment capabilities in the border areas, adding that India, too, has increased the budget for border infrastructure development to about double that of previous levels.
After Singh’s statement, the Rajya Sabha chairperson said that anybody who is concerned for the country's safety and security could be apprised of the situation privately.
‘No Force Can Stop Indian Forces From Patrolling’
Post his statement, several MPs responded in the Upper House, expressing their solidarity with the Indian armed forces.
Responding to Congress member AK Antony's remark about Indian soldiers being pushed back from traditional patrolling points, Singh said that there would be no change.
"No force in world can stop Indian forces from patrolling on Ladakh border," Singh told Antony.
Address in Lower House
Singh had earlier addressed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday over the India-China border issue, saying that it remains unresolved, with no mutually acceptable solution till now.
“China doesn’t recognise the traditional and customary alignment of the boundary. We consider that this alignment is based on well-established geographical principles,” Singh was quoted as saying.
After Singh’s address to Lok Sabha MPs, Congress MPs demanded a discussion on the border issue, reported ANI. When the government refused a discussion after the minister's statement, and the Speaker refused to allow Adhir Chowdhury to speak, the party’s MPs staged a walkout to register their protest.
The party, which had repeatedly demanded that the government explain the "real situation" in Ladakh, were carrying placards that read, "We want a discussion on China and PM must answer", NDTV reported.
On 15 June, clashes between Indian and Chinese troops along the LAC in eastern Ladakh led to the loss of lives of 20 Indian soldiers. The Indian government had claimed that over 40 soldiers on the Chinese side were also killed.
These clashes are being termed as the deadliest along the Sino-India border since the 1962 war between the two countries.
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