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China hindering patrolling by Indian troops along Line of Actual Control: India

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Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

India on Thursday said Chinese military was hindering normal patrolling by its troops along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and Sikkim and strongly refuted China's contention that the escalating tension between the two armies was triggered by trespassing of Indian forces across the Chinese side.

The Ministry of External Affairs said all Indian activities were carried out on its side of the border, asserting that India has always taken a very responsible approach towards border management. At the same time, it said, India was deeply committed to protect its sovereignty and security.

Several areas along the LAC in Ladakh and North Sikkim witnessed major military build-up by both the Indian and Chinese in the last few days, in a clear signal of escalating tension and hardening of respective positions by the two countries even two weeks after they were engaged in two separate face-offs.

The nearly 3,500-km-long LAC is the de-facto border between the two countries.

On Tuesday, China accused the Indian Army of trespassing into its territory, claiming that it was an "attempt to unilaterally change the status" of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Sikkim and Ladakh.

"Any suggestion that Indian troops had undertaken activity across the LAC in the Western sector or the Sikkim sector is not accurate. Indian troops are fully familiar with the alignment of the Line of Actual Control in the India-China border areas and abide by it scrupulously," MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at an online media briefing.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian maintained that Indian troops trespassed across the LAC, adding Chinese military firmly deals with such actions.

Zhao also dismissed as "nonsense" the comments by Alice Wells, the outgoing head of the South and Central Asia bureau in the US State Department, that the aggressive Chinese behaviour along the LAC was a "reminder of the threat posed by China".

The MEA spokesperson said all Indian activities were entirely on the Indian side of the LAC.

"In fact, it is Chinese side that has recently undertaken activity hindering India's normal patrolling patterns. Indian side has always taken a very responsible approach towards border management," Srivastava said.

"At the same time, we are deeply committed to ensuring India's sovereignty and security," he said.

"The Indian troops strictly follow the procedures laid down in various bilateral agreements and protocols to resolve any situations which may arise due to difference in perception of LAC," Srivstava added.

Without elaborating, the MEA spokesperson said both sides were engaged to address any immediate issue.

"The two sides have established mechanisms to resolve such situations peacefully through dialogue. Both sides remain engaged with each other to address any immediate issues," he said.

It is learnt that local commanders of both the sides held at least three meetings in the last couple of days to bring down the tension but there was no positive outcome from the exchanges.

Sources said a top official in the government was in touch with Beijing as both sides were attempting to resolve the issue.

"In accordance with the consensus reached in Chennai, Indian side remains firmly committed to work for the common objective of maintenance of peace and tranquility in border areas. This is an essential prerequisite to the further development of Indian-China bilateral relations," said Srivastava.

Sources said the Chinese troops significantly increased their presence in areas around Pangong Tso Lake and Galwan Valley and even brought in sizeable number of additional boats to the lake.

They said India has too made significant increase in its deployment in several sensitive areas in Ladakh and Sikkim and that movement of Chinese troops are being closely monitored.

The sources said the Chinese side has erected at least 40-50 tents in the Galwan Valley following which India has also sent reinforcements.

On May 5, around 250 Indian and Chinese army personnel clashed with iron rods, sticks, and even resorted to stone-pelting in the Pangong Tso lake area in which soldiers on both sides sustained injuries.

In a separate incident, nearly 150 Indian and Chinese military personnel were engaged in a face-off near Naku La Pass in the Sikkim sector on May 9. 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 which even triggered fears of a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LAC. 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.

China has been critical of India's reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir, and has particularly criticised New Delhi for making Ladakh a union territory. China lays claim over several parts of Ladakh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their first informal summit in April 2018 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, months after the Doklam standoff.

In the summit, the two leaders decided to issue "strategic guidance" to their militaries to strengthen communications so that they can build trust and understanding.

Modi and Xi held their second informal summit in Mamallapuram near Chennai in October last year with a focus on further broadening bilateral ties.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 21 2020. 23:36 IST
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