Defence Minister Rajnath Singh briefed the Lok Sabha (House of People) on the situation in Eastern Ladakh. The Defence Minister said, India believes that the Indo-China border alignments are based on well-established geographical principles confirmed by treaties and agreements, as well as historical usage and practice, well-known for centuries to both sides. The Chinese position, however, is that the boundary between the two countries has not been formally delimited.
Both India and China have formally agreed that the boundary question is a complex issue which requires patience and have committed to seeking a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution through dialogue and peaceful negotiations. In the interim, the two sides also agree that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas is an essential basis for the further development of bilateral relations.
The Defence Minister said, under various agreements, the two sides have agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (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.
Defence Minister informed the House that since April, India had noticed build-up 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 Indian troops in the Galwan Valley area, which resulted in a face-off. Even as this situation was being addressed by the Ground Commanders as per the provisions of bilateral agreements and protocol, in mid-May the Chinese side made several attempts to transgress the LAC in other parts of the Western Sector. 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.
India has made it clear to China through both diplomatic and military channels that Beijing was attempting to unilaterally alter the status quo. It was categorically conveyed that this was unacceptable.
Mr. Singh said, the conduct of our armed forces throughout these incidents shows that while they maintained “Sayyam” (patience) in the face of provocative actions, they also equally displayed “Shaurya” (valour) when required to protect the territorial integrity of India.
Defence Minister said, no one should doubt India’s determination to safeguard her borders. India believes that mutual respect and sensitivity are the basis for peaceful relations with neighbours. He said, India wants to resolve the current situation through dialogue. In the discussions with China, India maintained the three key principles that, determine New Delhi’s approach: both sides should strictly respect and observe the LAC; neither side should attempt to alter the status quo unilaterally; and all agreements and understandings between the two sides much be fully abided by in their entirety.
China’s actions reflect blatant disregard of various bilateral agreements. The amassing of the troops by China goes against previous Agreements. Respecting and strictly observing the Line of Actual Control is the basis for peace and tranquillity in the border areas and explicitly recognized in both 1993 and 1996 agreements. While Indian armed forces abide scrupulously by it, this has not been reciprocated by the Chinese side.
Defence Minister emphasized that India remains committed to resolving the current issues in our border areas through peaceful dialogue and consultations. It was in pursuit of this objective that he met his Chinese counterpart in Moscow and had in-depth discussions with him. It was conveyed in clear terms, that India’s concerns related to the actions of the Chinese side, including amassing of large number of troops, their aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo that were in violation of the bilateral agreements. The External Affairs Minister also met with the Chinese Foreign Minister in Moscow.
The two sides have reached an agreement that, if implemented sincerely by the Chinese side, could lead to complete disengagement and restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
The Defence Minister assured the House that the morale of India’s Armed Forces is very high. The reassuring visit by Prime Minister has ensured that our commanders and soldiers understand that the entire nation stands behind them. Mr. Singh urged the House to pass a resolution in support of the Armed Forces who have been defending the motherland at great heights and in very hostile weather conditions in Ladakh for our safety and security.
Script: Padam Singh, Air: News Analyst