New Delhi: The government has said “making exaggerated and untenable claims” on disputed areas along the Line of Actual Control or LAC is against the understanding that military commanders of India and China had reached during a meeting on June 6.
Soldiers of both nations were involved in a violent face-off at Galwan valley in Ladakh on Monday night, with both sides taking casualties.
Chinese soldiers took “pre-meditated and planned action” that was directly responsible for Monday’s clash at Galwan valley, in which 20 Indian soldiers died, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar told his China counterpart Wang Yi in a phone conversation on Wednesday.
Later on Wednesday, in response to a Chinese commander’s claim on Galwan valley that was read out at the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s briefing, India’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “As we have conveyed earlier today (Wednesday), External Affairs Minister and the State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China had a phone conversation on recent developments in Ladakh. Both sides have agreed that the overall situation should be handled in a responsible manner and that the understandings reached between Senior Commanders on June 6 should be implemented sincerely. Making exaggerated and untenable claims are contrary to this understanding.”
During the meeting on June 6, Lieutenant General-level talks were held to end the stand-off at Pangong Tso and a number of other areas in eastern Ladakh. In the over four-and-a-half-hour meeting, Indian had pressed for restoration of status quo and immediate withdrawal of a sizeable number of Chinese troops from all the stand-off points.
On June 15, when a small Indian patrol moved to remove a Chinese tent at the Galwan river valley at 15,000 feet, a physical fight broke out after the Chinese soldiers targeted the Indian Colonel, BL Santosh Babu. Both sides were armed with batons and rods with nails. China had agreed to remove the tent after the talks on June 6.
Army sources have told NDTV that they are certain up to 45 Chinese soldiers have been killed or injured in the incident.
For now, Indian soldiers, even if they are armed, are under strict instructions not to open fire in the event of a fight with the Chinese. Sources have told NDTV that after the latest incident, these protocols will need to be revisited in order to give Indian soldiers a more robust set of rules to engage with Chinese forces. A final decision on this is yet to be taken by the Army’s hierarchy.