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Chinese troops engaged in ‘provocative action’ again: MEA

File photo of a banner erected by the Indian army near Pangong Tso lake near the India-China border in Ladakh.   | Photo Credit: AP

Chinese troops engaged in “provocative action” along the disputed boundary in Ladakh once again on August 31 even as Commanders of the two sides were in discussion to de-escalate the situation, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Tuesday. As Brigadier-level talks continued for the second day in Chushul on Tuesday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a high-level meeting to review the ground situation.

Also read: China questions India’s account of LAC tensions

“We have taken up the matter of recent provocative and aggressive actions with the Chinese side through both diplomatic and military channels and have urged them to discipline and control their front line troops from undertaking such provocative actions,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in response to a query. Due to the timely defensive action, the Indian side was able to prevent these attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo, he stated.

A defence source said that on August 31, PLA troops came closer to the posts dominated by the Indian Army two days back but “they were dissuaded.”

Mr. Srivastava said the Foreign Ministers and Special Representatives had agreed that the situation should be handled in a responsible manner and either side should not take any provocative action or escalate matters. The Chinese side violated this understanding and engaged in “provocative military manoeuvres” in the late night of August 29 and 30 in an attempt to change the status quo in the South Bank area of Pangong Lake. The Indian Army took “appropriate defensive measures” along the LAC in order “to safeguard our interests and defend the territorial integrity.”

Also read: Status quo at Pangong Tso has been changed, says Colonel Dinny (retd.)

The actions and behaviour of the Chinese side since earlier this year along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) had been in clear violation of the bilateral agreements and protocols concluded between the two countries to ensure peace and tranquillity on the border, the spokesperson noted.

Mr. Singh held a meeting with National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Bipin Rawat and the three Service Chiefs to discuss the developing situation on the ground in Ladakh, a second defence source said.

At Chushul, the Brigadier level talks began around 9:30 a.m. and went on till about 6 p.m., the first source said. “The talks are a confidence-building measure to ensure the situation on ground doesn’t escalate,” the source stated on the outcome of the talks.

Also read | China controls 1,000 sq. km of area in Ladakh

Troops on two peaks

A third defence source said the Army deployed troops on two peaks in the Chushul sector near the Spanggur gap on the Indian side of the LAC but also claimed by China to pre-empt a PLA action to occupy them. At Monday’s talks, China demanded that India withdraw from the peaks, it has been learnt.

An official said this was an attempt by China to change the alignment of the LAC in the South Bank of Pangong after making ingress up to Finger 4 on the North Bank since the stand-off began in May first week. Unlike the North Bank, where the Army only undertakes patrols, in the South Bank, it has a firm presence and has significantly strengthened its defences in the area in the last few years, including deployment of tanks.

Also read: LAC standoff | Completing disengagement will require reciprocal actions, says India

There was no change in the ground situation on the North Bank and other stand-off areas, the first source said. Chinese troops continued to occupy the ridge lines of Finger 4, and in the last two months, have undertaken a further build-up, which showed they were preparing to stay for the winter, the source added.

The two sides have held five round of Corps Commander talks so far since May in addition to military talks at other levels but the talks have hit a stalemate after some initial disengagement. It was during the first phase of disengagement the clashes occurred at the Galwan valley, resulting in the deaths of 20 Indian personnel and an unknown number of Chinese personnel.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 6:25:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/chinese-troops-engaged-in-provocative-action-again-mea/article32494468.ece

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