'China violated peace in east Ladakh': Rajnath Singh in RS slams Beijing over its 'complete disregard' for bilateral agreements
Beijing has undertaken significant infrastructure construction along the Line of Actual Control, Rajnath Singh told the Upper House on Thursday
China has shown complete disregard for bilateral agreements and violated peace in the east Ladakh, defence minister Rajnath Singh told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, two days after Congress MPs in Lok Sabha staged a walkout while claiming that the Centre is not willing to discuss the India-China border row.
Rajnath said that China has, in the recent past, illegally occupied 38,000 square kilometres of India's territory in Ladakh, added that Beijing has undertaken significant infrastructure construction along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
"Our government too has stepped up the budget for border infrastructure development to about double the previous levels," Rajnath said.
The defence minister added that amassing of troops by China along the LAC goes against the 1993 and 1996 agreements.
China also claims approximately 90,000 sq km of Indian territory in the Eastern Sector of the India-China boundary in Arunachal Pradesh, Rajnath said in the Upper House.
He further added that under the so-called Sino-Pakistan 'Boundary Agreement' of 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 square kilometres of Indian territory in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir to China.
Referring to clashes in the region on the intervening night of 29 and 30 August, Rajnath added that China attempted to change the status quo along the LAC with its provocative military manoeuvres and that there is a mismatch between what Beijing says and does.
"There were several friction areas in eastern Ladakh including Gogra, Kongka La and North and South Banks of the Pangong Lake. In response to China’s actions, our armed forces have also made appropriate counter deployments in these areas to ensure that India’s security interests are fully protected,” he added.
Replying to clarifications sought by MPs in Rajya Sabha on his statement on the border row, the minister said skirmishes and face-off with China in the last few months have been primarily over the issue of patrolling the Ladakh border.
"No force in the world can stop Indian soldiers from patrolling. Our soldiers have sacrificed their lives only for this," the minister said in response to a question from former defence minister AK Antony.
The impasse was due to differing perceptions of Line of Actual Control between India and China, he said.
Rajnath said, "The conduct of our armed forces throughout these incidents shows that while they maintained 'sayyam' (patience) in face of provocative actions, they also equally displayed 'shaurya' (courage) when required to protect territorial integrity of India.
In a detailed statement in the Rajya Sabha, Rajnath underlined that while India was committed to peace, it was also firm on protecting its boundaries. The defence minister said it had been conveyed to the Chinese side that the situation at the boundary will also have an implication on other areas. He said that was not acceptable to India and cautioned China that "we can start a war, but its end is not in our hands."
He said India is seeking a peaceful resolution through talks in the border issue between both the countries. A short discussion was held, after which Rajnath ended his address saying, “There are sensitive operational issues which I cannot detail. I hope the House will understand the sensitivity of the matter”.
'A very sensitive issue'
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu also lashed out at what he described as propaganda to show India is divided over the conflict. “As the chairman, I want to explain India’s culture is always of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam the world is a family. We have never attacked any country. This is a very sensitive issue. Our soldiers are at the frontier. Defence minister has explained at length the situation. But there is propaganda running in international magazines that India is divided, it has major differences and all those useless comments,” he said
As several political parties expressed support to the government in the ongoing stand-off with China, Rajnath said the country had fought many wars and “however big the challenge, we stand united behind our soldiers.”
Congress MP Anand Sharma sought clarification on the defence minister’s statement and questioned if the restoration of the status quo ante will remain non-negotiable for India. Samajwadi Party MP Ravi Prakash Verma said the electronic media seems to have created situation of war.
The defence minister’s address comes a week after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Chinese doreign minister Wang Yi held a meeting on the sidelines of a conclave of the Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Moscow, Beijing put the onus of implementing the consensus to resolve military stand-offs along the disputed boundary between the two nations.
They agreed that the current situation in India-China border areas was “not in the interest of either side” and hence the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA “should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease the tension”, according to a joint statement issued on Friday.
Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had said after the meeting that the most urgent task for India is to “correct its wrongdoing” in the India-China border areas and disengage from the points of standoff in order to defuse tension. He accused the Indian Army of first crossing the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The meeting followed stalled talks between the senior military commanders of the two nations: Lt Gen Harinder Singh and Maj Gen Liu Lin. Singh and Liu earlier had five rounds of talks, but they did not have any meetings after the fifth on 2 August.
Rajnath had addressed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, saying Beijing has been very clearly conveyed that any attempt to "unilaterally" change the status quo along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh is not acceptable, and that India's armed forces are ready to deal with "all contingencies" in the high-altitude region.
The defence minister said that any serious situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh is bound to impact the bilateral relations between India and China.
Congress had staged a walkout on Tuesday upon not being allowed to hold a discussion on India and China border stand-off.
Following Rajnath’s statement in the Lok Sabha, China claimed on Wednesday that it has been honouring agreements signed with India and is committed to maintaining peace in border areas.
The two countries have been engaged in a stand-off since April-May and the Chinese have refused to vacate areas in the Finger area and other friction points in the eastern Ladakh area.
With inputs from PTI
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