India’s envoy to Beijing on Friday said Chinese troops have occupied territory on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, and demanded that they move back to their side of the border for normalcy to return to bilateral relations.
“India hopes China will realise its responsibility in de-escalation and disengaging by moving back to its side of LAC,” PTI tweeted, quoting the Indian envoy to China.
The statement by Vikram Misri, India’s ambassador to China, is the first admission by an Indian official since the violent clashes of June 15 between Indian and Chinese troops, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed, that China has occupied territory on the Indian side of the LAC. The envoy said China’s attempt to alter the status quo could have “ripples and repercussions” in the broader bilateral relationship, and that China’s claim of sovereignty over the Galwan Valley was completely “untenable”. “Such exaggerated claims are not going to help,” Misri said.
He added that the only way to resolve the stand-off is for China to stop erecting new structures.
Until now, India had maintained that while Chinese troops had attempted to erect structures across the LAC and sought to alter the status quo, Indian troops had foiled their attempts.
Misri’s comments come a day after China’s envoy to New Delhi, Sun Weidong, had repeated his country’s position that Indian troops were responsible for the clashes.
“The onus is not on China. The Indian side crossed the LAC for provocation and attacked the Chinese border troops. The Indian forces seriously violated agreements on border issues between the two countries,” the Chinese envoy had said.
A little later on Thursday, India had blamed Beijing for “amassing a large contingent of troops and armaments along the LAC” since early May, which it said had forced India to take counter measures.
While New Delhi had warned China that a continuation of the situation would only vitiate the atmosphere, it had not accepted occupation of its territory.
Misri told PTI that it is entirely China’s responsibility to take a careful view of bilateral ties and decide which direction to move forward.
Misri said actions taken by Chinese forces have damaged considerable trust in their bilateral relationship. “Maintaining peace and tranquility on the border is sine qua non for progress in the rest of bilateral relationship,” he said.
Misri’s comments contradict Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement at the all-party meeting on June 19 that “neither is anyone inside our territory nor is any of our post captured”.
After criticism of the PM’s statement, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had issued a statement on June 20 that said Indian soldiers were killed when they stopped the Chinese side from erecting structures just across the LAC. It had claimed Indian soldiers had “repulsed the designs of the Chinese there”.
The clarification had quoted the PM to have said that the “sacrifices of the soldiers of the 16 Bihar Regiment foiled the attempt of the Chinese side to erect structures and also cleared the attempted transgression at this point of the LAC on that day”.