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Ladakh face-off | Chinese troops responsible for deadly clashes: India

In protest: People calling for the boycott of Chinese goods in Mumbai.

In protest: People calling for the boycott of Chinese goods in Mumbai.   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

Rejecting China’s “step by step” account of what led to the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan valley on June 15, the Ministry of External Affairs on Saturday said the Chinese troops were wholly responsible for the deadly clashes and they had “attempted” to transgress into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) many times.

“Both sides had agreed to respect and abide by the LAC and not undertake any activity to alter the status quo,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in a statement on Saturday in response to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

Ladakh face-off | Days after clash, China frees 10 Indian soldiers

“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 [on the Indian side]. When this attempt was foiled, Chinese troops took violent actions on 15 June, 2020, that directly resulted in casualties,” Mr. Srivastava added.

Watch | India-China stand-off on the LAC: A Timeline
 

The MEA also rejected, for the second time this week, China’s newly articulated claims on the entire Galwan valley. In a statement, repeated by spokesperson Zhao Lijian in a series of tweets on Saturday, the Chinese MFA had said, “The Galwan valley is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in the west section of the China-India boundary. For many years, the Chinese border troops have been patrolling and on duty in this region.” It claimed that India had agreed “not to cross the estuary of the Galwan river to patrol and build facilities” during the military commanders meeting on June 6.

Also read | There has been no firing on the border since 1975

‘Historically clear’

The MEA said the position on the Galwan valley was “historically clear”. “Attempts by the Chinese side to now advance exaggerated and untenable claims with regard to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) there are not acceptable. They are not in accordance with China’s own position in the past,” Mr. Srivastava said, adding that Indian troops had been patrolling the Galwan area for a “long time without any incident”.

Also read: What explains the India-China border flare-up?

To the Chinese version of the events unfolding over the past few weeks, which the MFA put out as a “step by step” account of the developments, the MEA said China had been “hindering” normal patrols by Indian troops since early May 2020. “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,” it said.

The MEA’s response came hours after the government clarified Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments on the Galwan valley clashes, in which he had said, “No one has intruded into Indian territory, nor is anyone in our territory, nor have any of our border posts been captured.” The statement, which has been questioned by the Opposition, also led to comments from former diplomats, who said all communication during times of conflict must be closely monitored.

“It appears the PM misspoke as it is not possible to deny that China has transgressed, and the clarification has come too late,” former diplomat K.C. Singh told The Hindu. “In times of conflict, as it was during the Kargil war and PM Vajpayee’s statements, it is important that public positions conform to facts and inherited strategic wisdom. What the PM says is being heard not only in India but by our opponents and beyond that in the Asia-Pacific region and the world,” he added.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 6:52:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ladakh-face-off-chinese-troops-responsible-for-deadly-clashes-india/article31878983.ece

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