A document on the ministry of defence website that admitted to Chinese intrusion into Indian territory in eastern Ladakh three months after the standoff started has vanished on Thursday afternoon, two days after it was uploaded.
Clicking on the document, which was on the news section of the MoD website since Tuesday, now shows ‘the URL cannot be found’.
The document was the first official acknowledgment from the central government of intrusion into Indian territory by the People’s Liberation Army amid the deadlock over troop disengagement at faceoff sites near Pangong lake and Gogra despite five rounds of commander-level talks.
The defence ministry officially used the word 'transgressed' as a euphemism for 'intrusion' across the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
"Chinese aggression has been increasing along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and more particularly in Galwan valley since May 5, 2020. The Chinese side has transgressed in the areas of Kungrang Nala, Gogra and north bank of Pangong Tso Lake on May 17-18," the ministry had stated in the "What's New" section under the title "Chinese Aggression on LAC".
The document said the stand-off could be prolonged and the evolving situation may need prompt action. The government had till now not admitted to the intrusion in any statement or document ever since the first military clash on the north bank of Pangong Tso on May 5-6.
However, the link on the website is not working anymore. A defence ministry spokesperson told the NDTV that the document "did not go through him".
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who has been severely critical of the government’s handling of the border standoff with China, had also cited a report on the now-deleted document and asked in a tweet: "Why is the PM lying?"
Earlier, defence minister Rajnath Singh, had in an interview with News18 in end-May, said a sizeable number of Chinese soldiers had "come a little further than they used to earlier". But it was officially clarified that it should not be "misinterpreted as if Chinese troops entered the Indian side of the LAC", the report said.
After five rounds of commander-level talks for disengament, several reports have indicated that Beijing is unwilling to return to the previous status quo and remains in possession of land that Indian troops used to patrol.
News18 had on Tuesday reported that Chinese troops remain entrenched at Finger 4, near a location called Green Top, which offers a view of the Indian Army’s logistics hub around the Pangong lake. Chinese troops are also preventing Indian soldiers from accessing a number of their patrolling points in the strategically important Depsang Plains, by blocking off the bottleneck or “Y-junction” in the area.