First comments by a member of the Cabinet Committee on Security on the almost month-long standoff.
The standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China would be resolved through diplomatic dialogue and India’s effort was also to ensure that tensions did not rise further, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Saturday, in the first comments by a member of the Cabinet Committee on Security on the almost month-long standoff.
“As of now, dialogue is on with China both at the military and diplomatic level,” Mr. Singh said in a television interview. India’s policy had been very clear that “we should have good relations with all neighbours.” Both India and China have resolved incidents that arose from time to time through dialogue and existing mechanisms, he said.
Giving the example of the 73-day standoff at Doklam in 2017, he said India had held firm but the issue was eventually resolved through dialogue.
Asked about the U.S. President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate between India and China to resolve what he termed a “now raging border dispute”, Mr. Singh said that in a telephonic conversation with his U.S. counterpart Mark Esper on Friday he conveyed that the issue would be resolved bilaterally. “I told him [Mr. Esper] that India and China already had a mechanism that if there is any problem between the two countries, it is resolved by military and diplomatic dialogue. That mechanism is in place and the dialogue is on.” Both India and China had declined the U.S. offer of mediation.
Except for a few statements from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and one message from Army chief Gen. Manoj Naravane, the government had maintained silence on the ground situation. The MEA had said that the issues would be resolved according to five agreements on border management signed by India and China between 1993 and 2013.
Mr. Singh did not respond to a direct question on whether Chinese troops crossed over into Indian territory. Instead he said there were differing perceptions on the alignment of the LAC due to which both sides patrolled across the LAC till their lines of perception. The country “should be assured that we will not allow India’s dignity to be hurt under any circumstances”, he said.
The government has so far not said why the tense situation came about and why were the bilateral mechanisms activated other than the two acknowledged May 5 and 9 incidents which, the Army said, were locally resolved.
Chinese troops movement
However, sources said that beginning early May, Chinese troops moved inside Indian territory with vehicles and equipment at several points along the LAC, including Pangong Tso, several points in Galwan Nalah area and Demchok in eastern ladakh and Naku La in Sikkim, where PLA soldiers also blocked Indian patrols and pitched tents. In response, India, too, moved troops forward and also redeployed additional troops to the Ladakh region.
Satellite images put out by Open Source Intelligence handles on Twitter show construction and build-up by Chinese troops at several points both inside Indian held territory and also on their side close to the LAC. Images by open source intelligence expert detresfa, an analyst with ShadowBreak Intl, show Chinese units moving upwards from the base area at finger 4-5 of Pangong Tso. India holds up to Finger 4 area of the 135-km-long Pangong Tso but claims up to Finger 8 while China claims up to Finger 2. Similarly, images show large-scale activity by Chinese troops at Gogra and Hot Springs sectors too.
Images dated May 22, put out by an analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, an independent think tank based in Canberra, show about 80 tents set up by Chinese soldiers along the Galwan river. They also show vehicles and other structures.
With inputs from The Hindu