In a major flare-up in Ladakh, Chinese troops “carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo” near Pangong Tso but they were blocked by Indian soldiers, the government said today.
The incidents took place overnight between August 29 and 30, according to a statement by the Indian Army.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops “violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo,” said the statement.
“Indian troops preempted this PLA activity on the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake, undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground,” it said.
The statement asserted that the army is committed to maintaining peace and tranquility through dialogue, “but is also equally determined to protect its territorial integrity”.
A Brigade Commander level meeting is in progress at Chushul to resolve the issues, the government said.
Last week, after strong comments by Foreign Minister S Jaishankar that the stand-off along the Line of Actual Control of LAC this year was the “most serious situation after 1962 (when India and China fought a war)”, China said differences along the border needed to be sorted out peacefully.
“This is surely the most serious situation after 1962. In fact, after 45 years, we have had military casualties on this border. The quantum of forces currently deployed by both sides at the LAC is also unprecedented,” Mr Jaishankar told Rediff.com in an interview.
The Foreign Minister said that India has conveyed to China clearly that peace and tranquillity in border areas are the basis for the relationship between the two neighbours.
“If we look back at the last three decades, this is quite self-evident. Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a tense stand-off in eastern Ladakh for over three-and-half-month despite multiple rounds of diplomatic and military talks,” Mr Jaishankar said.
China’s Defence Ministry spokesperson Colonel Wu Qian then said: “Bearing in mind the big picture of bilateral ties and putting the border issue in an appropriate position in this big picture, India and China need to avoid misjudgement, keep divergences from escalating into disputes, and take concrete steps to bring bilateral relations back to the right track of normal development.”
India and China have had several rounds of military and diplomatic meetings but only limited disengagement has taken place in parts of eastern Ladakh after a violent standoff in June. Twenty soldiers died for India and some 40 Chinese soldiers were killed or injured in the clash that broke out on June 15 at Galwan valley in eastern Ladakh.
Days after the clash, India had said “making exaggerated and untenable claims” on areas along the LAC is against the understanding that military commanders of India and China had reached. The External Affairs Ministry said “complete disengagement requires redeployment of troops by each side towards their regular posts on their respective sides of the LAC”.