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Rajnath visits Pangong Tso, says can’t guarantee to what extent tension will be resolved

Like PM Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh didn’t mention China by name, but said ‘no power in the world can touch even one inch of India’s land’.

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New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Friday visited the Pangong Tso area in Ladakh that has been one of the main spots of contention between India and China in their ongoing stand-off, and said the talks between the countries should resolve the situation. But he added that he could not “guarantee” to what extent there would be a resolution, underlining that no power can take away an inch of Indian territory.

Like Narendra Modi, whom he called a “decision-taking PM”, Singh did not name China. But it was clear his speech was directed at Beijing.

“How far will it be solved cannot be guaranteed. But I definitely want to assure that no power in the world can touch even one inch of India’s land. No one can take possession of it,” the defence minister said.

India and China have been in a tense stand-off since early May, and several rounds of talks have been held between the two sides, including at the National Security Advisor level.

Also read: Why the serene Pangong lake lies at the heart of India-China border dispute in Ladakh

India’s self-respect

Addressing troops at Lukung near the Finger 4 area of Pangong Tso, Singh said India has always stood for peace, but will give a befitting reply to any country trying to hurt its self-respect.

“Our character has been that we have never tried to hurt the self-respect of any country. If anyone tries to hurt the self-respect of India, we will not tolerate it and will give a befitting reply,” he said.

Rajnath Singh was accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General M.M. Naravane. The minister was given a detailed briefing on the situation and also witnessed an exercise by the soldiers besides battle drills by troops of the Ladakh Scouts.

Singh’s statement comes a day after the Army and the Ministry of External Affairs described the ongoing talks as “intricate and complex”.

Progress on de-escalation

Based on the talks so far, the Chinese have pulled back from Indian territory in the Galwan Valley and the Hot Spring Area, but they maintain a huge build-up of tanks, artillery guns and troops in forward locations near the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Progress in the Pangong Tso and the Depsang Plains areas have been slow. In Pangong Tso, the Chinese have crossed into Indian side of the LAC by about 8 km.

As reported by ThePrint, total de-escalation, which means restoration of status quo ante as of early April, could take as long as the winter.

India has moved in over three divisions of additional troops and equipment into the region, including tanks, artillery and specialised forces.

Also read: How IAF has played a critical role in the India-China stand-off at Ladakh


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