New Delhi: Opening a new phase of tensions in Eastern Ladakh, Chinese troops fired warning shots in the air when challenged by Indian soldiers as they attempted to close in with one of India’s forward positions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian Army said.
The Army, in a statement, also termed a statement by China’s Western Theatre Command, which had accused India of crossing the LAC and opening fire, “an attempt to mislead their domestic and international audience”.
Accusing China of continuing with “provocative activities to escalate the situation, the Army statement said, “India, while is committed to disengagement and de-escalating the situation on the LAC, China continues to undertake provocative activities to escalate.”
The Army underlined that at no stage have the Indian soldiers transgressed across the LAC or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing.
“It is the PLA that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres, while engagement at military, diplomatic and political level is in progress.”
The statement added, “In the instant case on 07 September 2020, it was the PLA troops who were attempting to close-in with one of our forward positions along the LAC and when dissuaded by own troops, PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate own troops. However, despite the grave provocation, own troops exercised great restraint and behaved in a mature and responsible manner.”
The Indian Army said it is committed to maintaining peace and tranquility, but is also determined to protect national integrity and sovereignty at all costs.
“The statement by the Western Theatre Command is an attempt to mislead their domestic and international audience,” the Army statement said.
The Ministry of External Affairs has also issued a similar statement.
Sources in the defence and security establishment said the action took place Monday evening along the LAC on the Rezang-La-Rechin La ridgeline after the Chinese attempted to transgress into the Indian-dominated territory on the southern bank of Pangong Tso.
The firing incident, confirmed by both India and China, breaks the over four-decades-old record of not a single shot being fired despite an unsettled border that witnesses several face-offs every year.
ThePrint had reported on 4 September that new rules of engagement are in play at the LAC.
Commanders on both sides are talking to each other to calm the situation, the sources said.
They said the Chinese in large numbers and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) were attempting to wrest control of a post on the ridgeline.
China accused India of crossing LAC and opening fire
China has again accused Indian troops of crossing the LAC, even though Army sources underlined that they have not crossed the Indian perception of the LAC.
Chinese perception of their own LAC comes well within Indian territory and is known as the Green Line.
The source maintained that Indians are within their own perception of the LAC but the Chinese consider the areas as their own territory and hence comes their claim of Indians crossing it.
The China’s Western Theatre Command, which takes care of the border with India, issued a statement late Monday night accusing Indian troops of opening warning shots.
Colonel Zhang Shuili, spokesperson of the Western Theatre Command, said Indian troops crossed the LAC at the west section of the China-India border, into the Shenpao mountain region near the south bank of Pangong Tso.
“During the operation, the Indian army blatantly fired threats to the patrol personnel of the Chinese border guards who had made representations, and the Chinese border guards were forced to take countermeasures to stabilize the situation on the ground,” China’s state-owned Global Times reported.
The PLA added that the Indian side’s move seriously violated related agreements reached by both sides, stirred up tensions in the region, and would easily cause misunderstandings and misjudgments, which “is a serious military provocation and is very vile in nature”.