New Delhi: India on Thursday asserted that a bridge being built by China across Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh is in an area that has been under that country’s “illegal occupation” for around 60 years, and said it was taking all steps to ensure that the country’s security interests are “fully protected”.
At a media briefing, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi also slammed China for renaming some places in Arunachal Pradesh, calling it a “ridiculous exercise” to support “untenable territorial” claims, and said instead of engaging in such antics, Beijing should work constructively with India to resolve issues in the friction points in eastern Ladakh.
Bagchi said Arunachal Pradesh has always been and will always remain an “inalienable” part of India.
“Calling Turtling as ‘DouDeng’ or River Siyom as ‘XiYueMu’ or even Kibithu as ‘Daba’ does not alter the fact that Arunachal Pradesh has always been and will always remain an inalienable part of India.” On China building the bridge across the Pangong lake area, Bagchi said India has been monitoring this activity “closely” and that it has never accepted such illegal occupation, in the country’s first official comment on the matter.
“As regards reports about a bridge being made by the Chinese side on Pangong lake, the government has been monitoring this activity closely,” he said.
“This bridge is being constructed in areas that have been under illegal occupation by China for around 60 years now. As you are well aware India has never accepted such illegal occupation,” he added.
Bagchi said India has been taking all necessary steps to ensure that its security interests are “fully protected”.
“As part of these efforts, Government has also, in the last seven years, increased significantly the budget for the development of border infrastructure and completed more roads and bridges than ever before,” he said.
“These have provided much-needed connectivity to local population as well as logistical support to armed forces. The government remains committed to this objective,” he added.
Satellite images of the bridge being built in the Khurnak area surfaced on Monday following which military experts said the aim of the construction is to ensure that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army(PLA) is able to quickly mobilise its troops in the region.
China has been focusing on strengthening its military infrastructure after Indian troops captured several strategic peaks on the southern bank of the Pangong lake in August 2020 after the PLA attempted to intimidate them in the area.
Asked about Chinese media claiming that Chinese soldiers unfurled a flag of that country in the Galwan valley as part of the New Year celebrations, Bagchi said the media reports are not factually correct.
“Various Indian media outlets have released photographs contradicting the claims. So I do not have to say much on it anymore,” he added.
Photographs of Indian Army troops holding a large tricolour in Galwan valley as part of New Year celebrations were released on Tuesday by sources in the security establishment, in response to China playing up a purported video of hoisting of its flag by its soldiers in the region.
On China renaming some places in Arunachal Pradesh, Bagchi said, “We had seen reports of the Chinese side naming some places in Arunachal Pradesh last week. At that time, we had conveyed our views on such a ridiculous exercise to support untenable territorial claims.” Last week, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs announced that it had standardised in Chinese characters, Tibetan and Roman alphabet the names of 15 places in Zangnan, the Chinese name for Arunachal Pradesh, according to state-run Global Times.
“We hope that instead of engaging in such antics China will work constructively with us to resolve the outstanding friction points in areas along the Western Sector of the LAC in India-China border areas,” Bagchi said.
India had rejected the Chinese action last week as well saying assigning “invented” names does not alter the fact that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of the country.
The Chinese action came in the midst of the eastern Ladakh border standoff that had erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas.
As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process last year in the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area.
The 13th round of Corps Commander-level military talks in October ended in a stalemate with the Indian Army saying that the “constructive suggestions” made by it were not agreeable to the Chinese side.
In their virtual diplomatic talks on November 18, India and China had agreed to hold the 14th round of military talks at an early date to achieve the objective of complete disengagement at the remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh.
Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the sensitive sector.
This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.