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China’s claim on Galwan not in accordance with Beijing’s past position, says India 

The MEA statement, in response to China’s claims, came hours after the PMO issued a clarification on Modi’s comments at Friday's all-party meet.

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New Delhi: In a fresh statement Saturday evening, India said China’s claim on Galwan Valley is “not in accordance” with Beijing’s “past position” even as it maintained that the Chinese side has been hindering patrolling activities of Indian troops there.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the “position with regard to the Galwan Valley area has been historically clear”.

“Attempts by the Chinese side to now advance exaggerated and untenable claims with regard to Line of Actual Control (LAC) there are not acceptable. They are not in accordance with China’s own position in the past,” said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.

The MEA statement came hours after the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) issued a clarification on PM Narendra Modi’s comments Friday at the all-party meet. Modi had said that there has been “no intrusion” into Indian territory. The PMO said there has been “mischievous” interpretation of Modi’s remarks.

Within a couple of hours of the PM’s statement, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a “step by step account of the Galwan clash”, as it claimed the entire valley, and that Indian troops unilaterally tried to change status quo.

Responding to this, Srivastava said India has “never undertaken any actions across the LAC”.

“In fact, they have been patrolling this area for a long time without any incident. All infrastructure built by the Indian side is naturally on its own side of the LAC,” he said, adding that Indian troops are “fully familiar with the alignment of the LAC in all sectors of the India-China border areas, including in the Galwan Valley”.

The latest round of statements have come days after 20 Indian soldiers died in a violent clash in the Galwan Valley on 15 June.

Also read: New bridge over Shyok river in Galwan Valley now functional amid tension with China

‘PLA tried to transgress’

Reiterating the MEA’s earlier statement, Srivastava also refuted claims made by China that it was India that was changing the status quo.

“Since early May 2020, the Chinese side has been hindering India’s normal, traditional patrolling pattern in this area. This had resulted in a face-off which was addressed by the ground commanders as per the provisions of the bilateral agreements and protocols. We do not accept the contention that India was unilaterally changing the status quo. On the contrary, we were maintaining it,” he said.

Srivastava went on to say that in the middle of last month, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) attempted to “transgress the LAC in other areas of the Western Sector of the India-China border areas”.

“These attempts were invariably met with an appropriate response from us. Thereafter, the two sides were engaged in discussions through established diplomatic and military channels to address the situation arising out of Chinese activities on the LAC,” he said, adding that this was the reason why the senior commander-level meeting was held on 6 June.

“Both sides had agreed to respect and abide by the LAC and not undertake any activity to alter the status quo (in the June 6 meeting). However, the Chinese side departed from these understandings in respect of the LAC in the Galwan Valley area and sought to erect structures just across the LAC. When this attempt was foiled, Chinese troops took violent actions on 15 June 2020 that directly resulted in casualties,” he clarified.

Subsequently, the two Foreign Ministers, India’s S. Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, spoke over the phone on 17 June when India “conveyed our protest in the strongest terms on the events leading up to and on the violent face-off”, the spokesperson said.

“He (Jaishankar) firmly rejected the unfounded allegations made by the Chinese side and the misrepresentation of the understandings reached between the Senior Commanders. He also underlined that it was for China to reassess its actions and take corrective steps,” he added.

The ministers also agreed that the overall situation would be handled in a “responsible manner”, and both sides would implement the disengagement understanding of 6 June sincerely, said Srivastava.

“The two sides are in regular touch and early meetings of military and diplomatic mechanisms are currently being discussed,” he said.

Urging Beijing to follow the “understanding reached between the Foreign Ministers to ensure peace and tranquility in the border areas”, New Delhi also said this is “essential for the overall development of our bilateral relations”.

Also read: Xi has thrown the gauntlet at Modi. He can pick it up like Nehru, or try something new

Ready to handle ‘any contingency’, says IAF chief

Meanwhile, in a clear indication that the border stand-off is growing tense by the minute, the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief R.K.S. Bhadauria said India has made a detailed analysis of the air deployments made by China at the LAC as he sounded a note of caution.

“We are aware of the situation, be it on LAC or beyond, be it their air deployments, their posture and kind of deployments. We’ve full analysis and we’ve taken necessary action that we need to take to handle any contingency that may come up,” Bhadauria said Saturday.

The IAF chief added that the lives of 20 killed Indian soldiers won’t go in vain.

Also read: Pompeo cites Ladakh tensions, accuses China of playing ‘rogue actor’ around world


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