Chinese troops are present in sizeable numbers along the border, defence minister Rajnath Singh told CNN-News18, in the first official statement since a nearly one-month-long standoff between India and Beijing along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
"Ye baat sach hain ki seema par iss samay Cheen ke log bhi (hai)- unka daava hain ki - hamari seema yahan tak hain. Bharat ka yeh daava hain ki hamari seema yahan tak hain (It is true that Chinese troops are present along the border. They claim their border is till a particular point and India has has demarcated the point till where its territory lies)," Singh said.
He also said that India has taken all the necessary steps to deal with the situation, adding that the government will not "back off from its position". Additionally, a meeting between senior Indian and Chinese military leaders has been scheduled for 6 June, according to PTI. "The Doka La dispute was resolved through diplomatic and military talks. We have found solutions to similar situations in the past as well," Singh said, adding that the two countries are engaged in talks this time too. "India does not hurt the pride of any country and at the same time, it does not tolerate any attempt to hurt its own pride," he further said.
A meeting between Major General-level officers from both armies had taken place on Tuesday, with the Indian side being represented by the GOC of Leh-based 3 Mountain Division, Indian Express reported. The next meeting, held with the aim of ending ongoing military activity in contested portions of the LAC, will be held between Lt General-level officers from both sides, with the Indian delegation being led by the Leh Corps Commander.
The standoff at the India-China border began when Beijing opposed India's plan to lay a key road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso Lake besides construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley. India too had objections to China laying a road in the same area. Government sources said military reinforcements including troops, vehicles and artillery guns were sent to eastern Ladakh by the Indian Army to reinforce its presence in the areas where Chinese soldiers were reportedly present in significant numbers, according to PTI.
The standoff continued despite the two sides agreeing to disengage after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off near Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh on 5 May which spilled over to the next day. A similar incident was reported in north Sikkim on 9 May.
The India-China border dispute mainly focusses on the 3,488-kilometres-long LAC, which stretches from Ladakh till Arunachal Pradesh. In 2017, India and China had engaged in a 73-day standoff over the construction of a road in the Doka La tri-junction area.