The Ministry of Defence in its recently released annual report has said that the People’s Liberation Army was involved in “unilateral and provocative actions” in several areas along the Line of Actual Control. This came months after the ministry took down a report from its website that mentioned that China had “transgressed” into Indian territory in the eastern Ladakh region.
“Unilateral and provocative actions by the Chinese to change the status quo by force, in more than one area on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), were responded to in a firm and non-escalatory way, ensuring the sanctity of our claims in Eastern Ladakh,” the year-end review report, released by the ministry on January 1, mentioned. The report added the Army has maintained all protocols and agreements between the two countries.
“Indian Army with assistance from IAF [Indian Air Force], mobilised troops including accretionary forces in a very short duration including heavy equipment like guns, tanks as also ammunition, rations and clothing,” the report stated.
In August last year, a monthly report which listed “major activities of Department of Defence” for June was removed from the defence ministry website, a day after it was uploaded. The report was significant because it mentioned Chinese transgression for the first time, something that was not conceded in the monthly reports for April and May last year. Significantly, in an all-party meeting on June 19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also said that no one had entered Indian territory.
A couple of months later, the ministry removed all its monthly reports since 2017.
Meanwhile, in its annual report released now, the ministry also said that China used “unorthodox weapons” and amassed a large number of troops along the Line of Actual Control. The use of such weapons has been officially recognised for the first time.
In reference to the skirmish between two countries in Galwan Valley, the report noted that 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives, while “Chinese also suffered significant casualties”. It further said that on August 28-29, 2020, Indian troops “in a precautionary deployment, pre-empted Chinese expansionist designs and occupied heights along southern bank of Pangong Tso”.
As for the Line of Control, the report said that Indian troops “blunted Pakistan’s endeavours to infiltrate terrorists into the Valley”. It added that ceasefire violations committed by Pakistan Army were given a befitting reply by Indian troops causing significant casualties to the military of the neighbouring nation.
Tensions with China along the Line of Actual Control started with initial scuffles that led to a pitched battle – without firearms – in June that saw 20 Indian soldiers killed. Beijing, however, refused to release casualty numbers on its side. Both India and China have accused each other of crossing into rival territory and of firing shots for the first time in 45 years.
The two countries have failed to resolve the standoff even after eight rounds of Corps Commander-level talks, and the two countries have made preparations to maintain thousands of troops and equipment in sub-zero conditions.
In the latest development, on December 18, the countries agreed to continue working towards ensuring complete disengagement of soldiers along the Line of Actual Control.