New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday (September 17) said that the buildup of Chinese troops and armaments on the Eastern Ladakh border areas had been noticed since April, and in the following month they tried to stop the traditional patrolling route of our troops in the Galwan Valley, while addressing Rajya Sabha.
In mid-May, Rajnath Singh said, the Chinese troops had made several attempts to transgress the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in other parts of the Western Sector, which includes Kongka La, Gogra, and North Bank of Pangong Lake, which were detected and befittingly responded to by the Armed Forces.
The Defence Minister said, “Since April, we had noticed a buildup of troops and armaments by the Chinese side in the border areas adjacent to Eastern Ladakh. In early May, the Chinese side had taken action to hinder the normal, traditional patrolling pattern of our troops in the Galwan Valley area, which resulted in a face-off.”
He further said, “Even as this situation was being addressed by the ground commanders as per the provisions of our bilateral agreements and protocol, in mid-May the Chinese side made several attempts to transgress the LAC in other parts of the Western Sector. These attempts were detected early and consequently responded to appropriately by our armed forces.”
Rajnath Singh reiterated that the Galwan Valley clash had taken place as a result of the Chinese violating the process of disengagement decided at a meeting of senior commanders of the two sides on June 6.
Speaking about the present-day situation, the Defence Minister said that diplomatic and military engagements with the Chinese side have been maintained with three key principles in mind. The key points of his Rajya Sabha speech are:
1. “Both sides should strictly respect and observe the LAC, neither side should attempt to alter the status quo unilaterally, and all agreements and understandings between the two sides must be fully abided by in their entirety.”
2. “Stating that the ongoing situation involves “sensitive operational issues”, he said that the details could not be divulged in public as of yet, adding “the situation this year is very different both in terms of the scale of troops involved and the number of friction points. We do remain committed to a peaceful resolution of the current situation. At the same time, we remain prepared to deal with all contingencies.”
3. “I would like to take some time first to briefly provide some details of our boundary issue with China. As the House is aware, India and China are yet to resolve their boundary question. China does not accept the customary and traditional alignment of the boundary between India and China. We believe that this alignment is based on well-established geographical principles confirmed by treaties and agreements, as well as historical usage and practice, well-known for centuries to both sides.”
4. “The Chinese position, however, is that the boundary between the two countries has not been formally delimited, that there exists a traditional customary line formed by the extent of jurisdiction that they claim was exercised historically by each side, and that the two sides have different interpretations of the position of the traditional customary line. The two countries had engaged in discussions during 1950s-60s but these efforts could not yield a mutually acceptable solution.”
5- “China continues to be in illegal occupation of approximately 38,000 sq kms in the Union Territory of Ladakh. In addition, under the so-called Sino-Pakistan ‘Boundary Agreement’ of 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq kms of Indian territory in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to China. China also claims approximately 90,000 sq kms of Indian territory in the Eastern Sector of the India-China boundary in Arunachal Pradesh.”
6. “A key element of both the 1993 and the 1996 Agreements is that the two sides will keep their military forces in the areas along the Line of Actual Control to a minimum level. These agreements also mandate that pending an ultimate solution to the boundary question, the two sides shall strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control.”
7. “In these agreements, India and China also committed to clarification and confirmation of the Line of Actual Control to reach a common understanding of the alignment. Thus, in late 1990s and upto 2003, the two sides engaged in an exercise to clarify and confirm the LAC. But, thereafter the Chinese side did not show a willingness to pursue the LAC clarification exercise. As a result, there are some areas where the Chinese and Indian perceptions of LAC overlap. In these areas, as also with other sections of the border areas, the various agreements govern the manner in which troops of both sides should operate and deal with situations of face-offs to maintain peace and tranquility.”
8. “In early May, the Chinese side had taken action to hinder the normal, traditional patrolling pattern of our troops in the Galwan Valley area, which resulted in a face-off. Even as this situation was being addressed by the Ground Commanders as per the provisions of our bilateral agreements and protocol, in mid-May the Chinese side made several attempts to transgress the LAC in other parts of the Western Sector. This included Kongka La, Gogra and North Bank of Pangong Lake. These attempts were detected early and consequently responded to appropriately by our armed forces.”
9. “The conduct of our armed forces throughout these incidents shows that while they maintained “Sayyam” in the face of provocative actions, they also equally displayed “Shaurya” when required to protect the territorial integrity of India. I would like the House to appreciate the courage and valour of our soldiers, who undergo immense hardship in the most difficult conditions to keep us all safe and secure.”
10. “As we want to resolve the current situation through dialogue, we have maintained diplomatic and military engagement with the Chinese side. In these discussions, we have maintained the three key principles that, determine our approach: (i) both sides should strictly respect and observe the LAC; (ii) neither side should attempt to alter the status quo unilaterally; and (iii) all agreements and understandings between the two sides much be fully abided by in their entirety.”
11. “The Chinese side, on its part, took the position that the situation should be handled in a responsible manner and ensure peace and tranquility as per bilateral agreements and protocol. However, it is apparent from Chinese activities that their words don’t match their actions. A case in point is that even when the discussions were going on, the Chinese side again engaged in provocative military manoeuvres on the night of 29th and 30th August in an attempt to change the status quo in the South Bank area of Pangong Lake. But yet again, timely and firm actions by our armed forces along the LAC prevented such attempts from succeeding.”
12. “It is true that we are facing a challenge in Ladakh, but I am confident that our country and our brave soldiers will be able to surmount every challenge. I urge this House to unanimously honour the courage and valour of our Armed Forces. A message of unity and complete confidence of our brave soldiers will resonate not only across the country but also across the world and shall infuse a new confidence, new energy, and unlimited enthusiasm in our forces.”