The Ministry of Defence has removed from its website a document admitting to Chinese intrusion into Indian territory in eastern Ladakh in May, NDTV reported on Thursday. The document had first appeared on the news section of its website on Tuesday, but the page has been deleted now.
This was the first time the defence ministry officially acknowledged that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army “transgressed” into the Indian side in the areas of Kugrang Nala, Gogra and the north bank of Pangong Tso on May 17 to 18. The ministry had used the word “transgressed” as a euphemism for “intrusion”. This came amid the stalled process of disengagement on the Line of Actual Control.
The document, titled “Chinese Aggression on LAC”, also mentioned that Beijing’s military aggression has been increasing along the Line of Actual Control and more particularly in the Galwan Valley since May 5, the site of clashes between Indian and Chinese troops that led to death of 20 Indian soldiers.
The document added that armed forces of both sides have been steadily holding ground level meetings to diffuse the situation, referring to a Corps commanders’ meeting, which was held on June 6. “However, a violent face-off incident took place between the two sides on June 15, resulting in casualties on both sides,” the ministry said. “The situation in Eastern Ladakh arising from unilateral aggression by China continues to be sensitive and requiring close monitoring and prompt action based on the evolving situation.”
Subsequently, a second Corps commander level meeting took place on June 22 to discuss the modalities of de-escalation. “While engagement and dialogue at military and diplomatic level is continuing to arrive at mutually acceptable consensus, the present standoff is likely to be prolonged,” the ministry said.
A defence ministry spokesperson told NDTV that the document “did not go through him”.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, citing a report on the now deleted document, tweeted: “Why is the PM lying?”. Gandhi has repeatedly accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of surrendering to China and falsely claiming that the neighbouring country did not intrude into Indian territory in Ladakh.
At an all-party meeting in June, Modi had claimed 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. After his comments were widely criticised, the prime minister’s office had clarified that no part of India’s territory was under Chinese occupation, but that the statement made at the all-party meeting was also to indicate that the state of affairs was a “consequence of the bravery of our soldiers”.