Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday said the Narendra Modi-led central government cannot take the issue of the Indo-China border skirmish along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh and will not compromise on it.
"We can't take the issue of LAC lightly," he told Network 18’s editor-in-chief Rahul Joshi in an exclusive interview. "The government will not compromise one bit on this issue. We are dealing with this both militarily and diplomatically."
Several areas along the LAC in Ladakh and North Sikkim have seen major military build-up by both the Indian and Chinese armies, in a clear signal of escalating tension and hardening of positions by the two sides even two weeks after they were engaged in two separate face-offs.
Shah said talks were being held between diplomatic channels and between officials of the defence establishments to resolve the issue. "This government is duty-bound to protect its borders and there should be no doubt about the fact that absolutely no compromise will be made by India in securing its borders, whether they be on land or in water," he added.
However, Shah did not respond when asked if China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has entered Indian territory.
Both India and China have maintained that "military and diplomatic" level talks are on to amicably resolve the issue.
India has said the Chinese military was hindering normal patrolling by its troops along the LAC and has strongly refuted Beijing's contention the escalating tension was triggered by trespassing of Indian forces across the Chinese side.
China on Monday said the overall situation at the border is "stable and controllable" and both countries have "unimpeded" communication channels to resolve the issues through dialogue and consultations. "Negotiations are ongoing between the two countries at the military and diplomatic levels," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian in Beijing.
US President Donald Trump had also offered to "mediate or arbitrate" the raging border dispute between the two most populous countries, saying he was "ready, willing and able" to ease the tensions.
China asked India to be careful not to include the US factor in its handling of any problem in its relations with China, "otherwise it will only complicate the issue". "The offer of US mediation is unnecessary and the last thing both sides could use. China and India have the ability to resolve their problems, and there is no need for any third-party intervention," it said.
Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a major standoff for over three weeks in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh, in what is turning out to be the biggest confrontation between the two countries after the Doklam episode in 2017.
The situation deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on the evening of May 5 in Pangong Tso which spilled over to the next day before the two sides agreed to "disengage". However, the standoff continued.
The trigger for the face-off was China's stiff opposition to India laying a key road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso besides construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.
The latest tensions blew up on May 9 when nearly 150 Indian and Chinese military personnel were engaged in a face-off near Naku La Pass in the Sikkim sector. At least 10 soldiers from both sides sustained injuries.
The troops of India and China were engaged in a 73-day stand-off in Doklam tri-junction in 2017.
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it. Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas.