Union Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh on Friday said that India will not reduce the deployment of troops along the Line of Actual Control till China starts the process, Times Now reported. His comment came amid the ongoing border tensions between the two countries.

India and China will hold the ninth round of round of military talks on Sunday, according to ANI. The meeting will take place in Moldo, opposite the Chushul sector in India.

Singh said that India will do everything to safeguard its territorial integrity and sovereignty. “We have not reduced the number of troops along friction points,” Singh said in an interview to the TV channel. “We will not do so unless China reduces the deployment of troops on its side.”

The defence minister also dismissed reports that China had usurped Indian territory. In response to reports about China building a village in Arunachal Pradesh, Singh claimed that the construction had been going on across the border.

“Their [China’s] process of infrastructure development has been going for a long time,” the defence minister said. “India is also developing infrastructure at a fast rate, keeping in mind the needs of the residents and armed forces who patrol the area.”

Singh said that China had broken India’s trust, but expressed confidence that the standoff will be resolved through military and diplomatic channels. The defence minister said that India was a peace-loving country and did not want to start a war with any other nations.

China had on Thursday claimed that the construction activity was normal as it was undertaken within its “own territory”.

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China defends new village in Arunachal, says ‘construction on own territory’ is normal

NDTV on Monday reported that China had constructed a new village of 101 homes, approximately 4.5 kilometres within the Indian territory, in Arunachal Pradesh. The news channel cited satellite images accessed by it.

The village, located on the banks of the River Tsari Chu, in the Upper Subansiri district of the state could not be seen in satellite images of the same area taken in August 2019, suggesting that the construction was done at some point since then.

India did not deny the presence of the village, but said it was keeping a constant watch on all developments having a bearing on the country’s security, and was taking necessary measures to safeguard its territory .

The tensions in Arunachal Pradesh come at a time when relations between India and China have hit a multi-decade low since clashes in Eastern Ladakh in June that killed 20 Indian soldiers. China is also believed to have suffered casualties, but has not given any details. Both India and China have accused each other of crossing into rival territory and of firing shots for the first time in 45 years.

Rajnath Singh on the farmers’ agitation

The defence minister also spoke to Times Now about the protest against the three agricultural laws and the continuing stalemate between the farmers and the Centre.

He said that the government favoured a clause-wise discussion of the new laws. “The Centre has said that it will make amendments to the laws wherever needed,” Singh said. “If the farmers want detailed discussion on the laws, the agriculture minister has proposed to put them on hold for 1.5 years.”

The 11th round of talks between the farmer unions and the Centre ended in a deadlock on Friday as the protestors remained firm on their demand for a complete repeal of the new agriculture laws. No date has been fixed for the next meeting.

On Wednesday, the farmers had rejected the Centre’s proposal to pause the implementation of the agricultural laws. They remained firm on their demand for a complete rollback of the legislations.

Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping out on the outskirts of Delhi for nearly 60 days, demanding the repeal of the three agricultural laws passed in September. The farmers believe that the new laws undermine their livelihood and open the path for the corporate sector to dominate agricultural. The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies.