The situation along the disputed boundary over the past four months is a direct result of the actions taken by the Chinese side that sought to effect “unilateral change of status quo” and negotiations are the way ahead, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday, as Army Chief Gen Manoj Naravane visited Leh and forward areas in Ladakh to review the operational situation amid heightened tensions on the South Bank of Pangong Tso.
At Chushul, Brigadier-level talks between India and China continued for the fourth day in an attempt to de-escalate tensions but ended inconclusively. The IAF said that Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal (ACM) R.K.S. Bhadauria visited frontline air bases in the Eastern Air Command (EAC) on Wednesday.
The Army Chief is on a two-day visit to Leh to review operational preparedness in the Ladakh region following recent developments, an Army source said. He also visited some forward areas near Chushul.
The Brigadier level talks resumed at around 11 a.m. and ended around 3 p.m. but remained inconclusive like the earlier three rounds. There is no positive outcome so far and ground level talks are a continuous process, a second source said.
Responding to queries on the situation in Ladakh, MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava referred to the “provocative actions” by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops on August 29 and 30 and said, “These actions resulted in violation of the bilateral agreements and protocol, which ensured peace and tranquillity in the border areas for close to three decades. Now the way ahead is negotiations, both through the diplomatic and military channels.”
Reiterating India’s firm commitment to resolve all outstanding issues through peaceful dialogue, the Spokesperson urged China to sincerely engage the Indian side with the objective of expeditiously restoring peace and tranquillity in the border areas through complete disengagement and de-escalation in accordance with the bilateral agreements and protocols.
On ACM Bhadauria’s visit, the IAF said in a statement, “On arrival at the bases in EAC the CAS was received by respective Air Officers Commanding who apprised him of the readiness state and operational preparedness of the combat units under their command.”
In a pre-emptive move on August 29 and 30, the Army occupied some unoccupied heights in the Chushul sector from Thakung to Rechin La within the Indian perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), foiling the PLA’s attempts to dominate the heights.
In the military talks, China has demanded that India withdraw troops from these heights, which has been rejected by India. On the North Bank, Chinese troops continue to occupy the ridgelines of Finger 4 in addition to the heavy build up of defences between Finger 8 to Finger.