China occupying 38,000 sq km in Ladakh: Rajnath

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 9/16/2020 2:19:47 PM

NEW DELHI, Sep 15: Prime Minister Modi's famous denial of any intrusion in Ladakh and refusal to even name China were torn into tatters with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh going on record in the Lok Sabha that "China has illegally occupied over 38,000 square km of land in Ladakh."
In a suo motu statement on the second day of the monsoon session of Parliament that saw the Congress stage walkout on denial of any questions, the defence minister said India and China have different perceptions about the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and that the border issue remains unresolved.
He accused China of not recognising the traditional and customary alignment of the boundary. He China has not only unauthorizedly occupied land in Ladakh but it also occupies 5180 sq km of the Indian territory in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) that was seeded to it by Pakistan under the so-called Sino-Pakistan 'Boundary Agreement' of 1963.
Rajnath Singh did not mince words when he warned China that "we are prepared for all outcomes to ensure that India's sovereignty is maintained." Detailing a key meeting in Moscow he had with his Chinese counterpart, Singh said he made it clear that India wants to resolve this issue in a peaceful manner and "wants the Chinese side to work with us, but there should also be no doubt about our determination to protect India's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
He said a similar stance was taken by foreign minister S Jaishakar when he met his counterpart in Moscow. "We do remain committed to the peaceful resolution of the current situation. At the same time, the House can be assured that we remain prepared to deal with all contingencies," he said.
Singh said the border issue remains unresolved since China historically "does not recognise the current boundary." There is no commonly delineated Line of Actual Control in the border areas and no common perception of the entire LAC. The difference in perception has led to the face-off at the Line of Actual Control, he said.
He also made a disclosure that when the situation was being addressed by the ground commanders, the Chinese side made several attempts to transgress the LAC in other parts of the Western Sector in mid-May.
Therefore, in order to ensure peace and tranquility in the border areas, especially along the LAC, the two countries have concluded a number of agreements and protocols.
Under these agreements, the two sides have agreed to maintain peace and tranquility along the LAC without prejudice to their respective positions on the alignment of the LAC as well as on the boundary question.
"It is on this basis, that our overall relations also saw considerable progress since 1988. India's position is that while bilateral relations can continue to develop in parallel with discussions on resolving the boundary question, any serious disturbance in peace and tranquility along the LAC in the border areas is bound to have implications for the positive direction of our ties."
A key element of both the 1993 and the 1996 agreements is that the two sides will keep their military forces in the areas along the Line of Actual Control to a minimum level.
These agreements also mandate that pending an ultimate solution to the boundary question, the two sides shall strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control.
Furthermore in these agreements, India and China also committed to clarification and confirmation of the Line of Actual Control to reach a common understanding of the alignment. Thus, in late 1990s and upto 2003, the two sides engaged in an exercise to clarify and confirm the LAC.
But, thereafter the Chinese side did not show a willingness to pursue the LAC clarification exercise. As a result, there are some areas where the Chinese and Indian perceptions of LAC overlap.
In these areas, as also with other sections of the border areas, the various agreements govern the manner in which troops of both sides should operate and deal with situations of face-offs to maintain peace and tranquility.
Since April, India had noticed a buildup of troops and armaments by the Chinese side in the border areas adjacent to eastern Ladakh.
"In early May, the Chinese side had taken action to hinder the normal, traditional patrolling pattern of our troops in the Galwan Valley area, which resulted in a face-off," Rajnath said.
Even as this situation was being addressed by the Ground Commanders as per the provisions of our bilateral agreements and protocol, in mid-May the Chinese side made several attempts to transgress the LAC in other parts of the western sector, he said.
This included Kongka La, Gogra and North Bank of Pangong Lake. "These attempts were detected early and consequently responded to appropriately by our armed forces," said the minister adding, "We made it clear to the Chinese side both through diplomatic and military channels that China was, by such actions, attempting to unilaterally alter the status quo. It was categorically conveyed that this was unacceptable."
Given the growing friction along the LAC, the senior commanders of the two sides in a meeting on June 6, 2020 agreed on a process of disengagement that involved reciprocal actions.
Both sides also agreed to respect and abide by the LAC and not undertake any activity to alter the status quo. However, in violation of this the Chinese side created a violent face-off on June 15 at Galwan. "Our brave soldiers laid down their lives and also inflicted costs including casualties on the Chinese side," the minister said.



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