The Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday said that even as ground commanders of two sides were in discussions to de-escalate the situation, Chinese troops again engaged in provocative action on August 31. Due to timely defensive action, Indian side was able to prevent these attempts to unilaterally alter status quo.
“Actions and behaviour of Chinese side since earlier this year along LAC have been clear violation of bilateral pacts and protocols,” the Foreign Ministry added.
China’s attempt to unilaterally change the status quo on the Pangong lake was the first major incident in the area after the Galwan Valley clashes on June 15 in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed.
India and China have been closely engaged through diplomatic and military channels over the past three months to resolve the situation along the India-China border: Ministry of External Affairs pic.twitter.com/NgGhmgDSCH— ANI (@ANI) September 1, 2020
Chinese side violated this understanding & engaged in provocative military maneuvers in the late night of 29/30 August in an attempt to change the status quo in the South Bank area of Pangong Lake: MEA— ANI (@ANI) September 1, 2020
On 31st August, even as ground commanders of two sides were in discussions to de-escalate the situation, Chinese troops again engaged in provocative action. Due to timely defensive action, Indian side was able to prevent these attempts to unilaterally alter status quo: MEA— ANI (@ANI) September 1, 2020
Indian side is firmly committed to resolve all outstanding issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector through peaceful dialogue: MEA https://t.co/EyXSKxe3v7— ANI (@ANI) September 1, 2020
“As stated yesterday by Indian Army, the Indian side responded to these provocative actions and took appropriate defensive measures along the LAC in order to safeguard our interests and defend the territorial integrity,” the ministry said.
China denied that it started the latest flare-up, with an embassy spokeswoman in New Delhi accusing Indian troops of trespassing across the LAC -- the de facto border -- and conducting "flagrant provocations".
Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a border confrontation for months in the high-altitude snow deserts of Ladakh, and have held talks to reduce friction. The two have disputed the course of the frontier for over half a century.
The Indian official, who was briefed on the latest incident, said the movement of the Indian troops responded to an attempt by a large number of Chinese infantry to push through a key mountain pass late on Saturday. "We mobilised and occupied the four heights," the official said, adding all four hilltops were on India's side of the LAC.
The official said the Chinese soldiers were backed up by military vehicles and drew close enough to engage Indian troops in verbal arguments, but there were no clashes. He said the incident occurred on the southern bank of Pangong Tso, a picturesque lake where Indian and Chinese troops have been facing off since April.
The official said the Chinese had also been consolidating positions on the northern bank of the lake with what appeared to be new defensive positions.
But Ji Rong, a spokeswoman for the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, said Indian troops had violated the LAC at Pangong Tso's southern bank and near another mountain pass.
"What India has done runs counter to the efforts made by both sides for a period of time to ease and cool down the situation on the ground, and China is resolutely opposed to this," she said.
Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand combat with Chinese troops in Ladakh's Galwan area in June, the most serious clash between the two countries in 50 years. Both sides then agreed to pull back with military chiefs in the region holding five rounds of talks. But the Indian military said this week Beijing had reneged on the deal by carrying out "provocative military movements to change the status quo".
(With inputs from PTI, News18 and ANI)