Defence minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament on Tuesday that China has engaged in massive mobilisation of troops at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), engaged in aggressive behaviour, and sought to unilaterally change the status quo — all in contravention of existing border agreements and pacts between the two countries.
In the face of this, he said, India’s armed forces have shown both restraint when needed and courage when required, and will defend Indian sovereignty and territorial integrity in any situation.
In the first official statement by the government on the floor of the Lok Sabha on the India-China standoff in eastern Ladakh, Singh provided the historical backdrop of the border question; emphasised the importance of maintaining peace and tranquillity at the border for bilateral relations to progress; chronologically outlined the series of aggressive moves by China and “violent conduct” since April this year; acknowledged how the current situation is qualitatively different from the past in terms of the number of troops involved and the number of friction points; laid out the Indian position and principles on the need to respect the LAC; and alluded to the recent understanding between the foreign ministers of both countries in Moscow, putting the onus categorically on China to disengage.
“The amassing of the troops by China goes against our 1993 and 1996 agreements. Respecting and strictly observing the Line of Actual Control is the basis for peace and tranquillity in the border areas and explicitly recognised in both agreements. While our armed forces abide scrupulously by it, this has not been reciprocated by the Chinese side… In the recent incidents, this year, the violent conduct of Chinese forces has been in complete violation of all mutually agreed norms,” Singh said.
“As of now, the Chinese side has mobilised a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC as well as in the depth areas. There are several friction areas in eastern Ladakh, including Gogra, Kongka La and north and south banks of the Pangong Lake. In response to China’s actions, our armed forces have also made appropriate counterdeployments in these areas to ensure that India’s security interests are fully protected. The House should have full confidence that our armed forces will always rise to the challenge and do us all proud,” he added.
Singh suggested that in the past too, there have been long standoffs which were peacefully resolved, but acknowledged that the scale of troop mobilisation and number of friction points made then current situation different. “We are ready to face any situation,” he said.