The Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday informed Parliament that there has been no Chinese infiltration in the last six months. The government’s response came even as both India and China are trying to resolve the border stand-off along the Line of Actual Control, which began in May, but neither side has backed down.
Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai was replying to an unstarred question from Bharatiya Janata Party MP Anil Agarwal, who sought to know if cases of infiltration from Pakistan and China have increased during the last six months. “No infiltration has been reported along Indo-China border during last six months,” Rai said in a written response.
Rai stated that Pakistan has made 47 attempts of infiltration since March. Of these, four attempts were in March, 24 in April, eight in May, and 11 in July.
“The government has adopted a multi-pronged approach to contain cross border infiltration, which inter-alia include multi-tiered deployment along the International border/ Line of Control, improved intelligence and operational coordination, border fencing, deploying technological solutions and taking pro-active action against infiltrators,” he said on the efforts taken by the Centre to tackle the problem.
Home ministry officials told News18 that infiltration is used for terrorist crossing from Line Of Control. This means infiltration is not the same as “transgression” or “incursion”, which is a common parlance for the military action at the border.
Rai’s statement came a day after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed the Lok Sabha that no mutually acceptable solution has yet been found to restore peace and tranquility on the India-China border. He added that China has mobilised a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC as well as in the “depth areas”.
Last month, the Ministry of Defence had removed from its website a document admitting to Chinese intrusion into Indian territory in eastern Ladakh in May. The document had first appeared on the news section of its website, but the page was deleted later. 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”.
At an all-party meeting in June, Prime Minister Narendra 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”.
India-China border conflict
Military heads of the two countries have engaged in several rounds of talks over the last three months after 20 Indian and unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed in violent clashes in Galwan Valley. But these talks have failed to break the impasse.
On September 10, India’s Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. The two ministers agreed on a five-point plan to defuse tensions between the countries and said the current situation in the border areas of Ladakh was “not in the interest of either side”. They agreed, therefore, that the border troops of both sides should “continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions”.
On September 7, China accused India of “outrageously firing warning shots” in a new confrontation on the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake, describing it as as “a serious military provocation”. India denied this and said Chinese troops attempted to close in on Indian forward positions along the Line of Actual Control and “fired a few rounds in the air”. This was the first confirmed use of firearms on the Line of Actual Control by troops in more than four decades.
On September 1, the Ministry of External Affairs had said that Chinese troops engaged in “provocative action” on August 31, while discussions between ground commanders were underway. This followed by earlier moves on the intervening night of August 29 and 30, which, the Indian Army said, were “provocative” military movements to change the status quo.