India on Saturday called China’s claim on the entire Galwan Valley in Ladakh, the site of the violent June 15 clashes, an attempt to “advance exaggerated and untenable claims”, which New Delhi said were not acceptable. The Ministry of External Affairs, in a statement, said that while India’s position with regard to the area has been “historically clear”, China’s contestation is not in accordance with its own stand in the past.
On Friday, China foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian claimed the entire region, including areas that are currently on India’s side of the Line of Actual Control. The claim was made hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at an all-party meeting that no outsider was inside Indian territory in Ladakh nor had any border post of the Indian Army been captured by outside forces during the face-off with Chinese troops.
India’s foreign ministry on Saturday said that the country’s soldiers are “fully familiar” with the alignment of the Line of Actual Control in all sectors of the Indian border with China, including in the Galwan Valley. “They abide by it scrupulously here, as they do elsewhere,” the statement added. “The Indian side has never undertaken any actions across the LAC. In fact, they have been patrolling this area for a long time without any incident. All infrastructure built by the Indian side is naturally on its own side of the LAC.”
This came after China accused Indian border troops of “unilaterally and continuously” building roads, bridges and other facilities at the LAC in the Galwan Valley since April. “China has lodged representations and protests on multiple occasions but India has gone even further to cross the LAC and make provocations,” Lijian had said in Friday’s statement.
The statement from India’s foreign ministry, however, said that since early May, China has been hindering India’s “normal, traditional patrolling in this area”. “This had resulted in a face-off which was addressed by the ground commanders as per the provisions of the bilateral agreements and protocols,” it added. “We do not accept the contention that India was unilaterally changing the status quo. On the contrary, we were maintaining it.”
India said the Chinese side has been attempting to “transgress the LAC” in other areas of the Western Sector located along the countries’ border since mid-May. “These attempts were invariably met with an appropriate response from us,” it added. “Thereafter, the two sides were engaged in discussions through established diplomatic and military channels to address the situation arising out of Chinese activities on the LAC.”
New delhi highlighted the diplomatic talks between the military leaders of India and China on June 6, and said that both sides had agreed to respect and abide by the LAC and not undertake any activity to alter the status quo. “However, the Chinese side departed from these understandings in respect of the LAC in the Galwan Valley area and sought to erect structures just across the LAC,” it added. “When this attempt was foiled, Chinese troops took violent actions on 15 June 2020 that directly resulted in casualties.”
On Wednesday, India’s Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar held the Chinese forces responsible for the killing of Indian soldiers. He made the comments when he spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi over the phone for the first time since the standoff began between Indian and Chinese troops at several points along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and Sikkim.
India’s statement further said that the two ministers had agreed the overall situation would be handled in a responsible manner, and that both sides would “implement the disengagement understanding of 6 June sincerely”.
“The two sides are in regular touch and early meetings of military and diplomatic mechanisms are currently being discussed,” it added. “We expect that the Chinese side will sincerely follow the understanding reached between the Foreign Ministers to ensure peace and tranquility in the border areas, which is so essential for the overall development of our bilateral relations.”