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Indian troops ready to face ‘all contingencies’, says Rajnath


An IAF transport aircraft C17 brings in essential supplies at a base in Ladakh on Tuesday as the security forces gear up for winter amid tensions at the LAC. – PTI
 NEW DELHI, Sept 15 - Firmly articulating the government’s position on the tense Sino-India border row in eastern Ladakh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said China has been very clearly conveyed that any attempt to “unilaterally” change the status quo along the LAC is not at all acceptable, while acknowledging that India is facing a “challenge” in the region.

 Making a statement in Lok Sabha, Singh said there should be no doubt about the country’s determination to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and asserted that India’s armed forces are ready to deal with “all contingencies” in the high-altitude region.

Referring to the Galwan Valley clashes on June 15, the Defence Minister said Indian soldiers “inflicted costs including casualties on the Chinese side”, adding the House should have “full confidence” that the armed forces will always rise to the challenge and make the country proud.

“I will not hesitate to share with this august House that we are facing a challenge in Ladakh and I urge the House to pass a resolution in support of our armed forces who have been defending our motherland at great heights and most inclement weather conditions,” he said.

He said even though the situation this year is very different, both in terms of scale of troops involved and the number of friction points, India remains committed to the peaceful resolution of the current situation.

“At the same time, the House can be assured that we remain prepared to deal with all contingencies,” the Defence Minister said.

Singh also referred to his talks with the Chinese defence minister on the sidelines of a multilateral meet in Moscow recently.

He said it was made clear to him that though India wants to resolve the row peacefully, there should be no doubt about its determination to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“I conveyed in clear terms our concerns related to the actions of the Chinese side, including amassing a large number of troops, their aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo that were in violation of the bilateral agreements,” he said.

The Defence Minister said amassing of the troops by China and violent conduct of Chinese military were in violation of all mutually agreed norms and pacts.

“A key element of both the 1993 and the 1996 Agreements is that the two sides will keep their military forces in the areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to a minimum level,” he added.

Singh also talked about the five-point agreement reached between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on September 10 and said: “if implemented sincerely and faithfully by the Chinese side, it could lead to complete disengagement and restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas.”

On Galwan Valley clashes, he also said the Chinese side “created” a violent face off and “our brave soldiers laid down their lives and also inflicted costs including casualties on the Chinese side.”

Twenty Indian Army personnel were killed in the clashes which have significantly escalated the tensions between the two countries.

The Chinese side too suffered casualties, but it is yet to give out the details.

The Defence Minister said the Chinese side had taken action to “hinder” the normal, traditional patrolling pattern of Indian troops in the Galwan Valley area which resulted in the face-off.

The Defence Minister said India made it clear to the Chinese side both through diplomatic and military channels that attempting to unilaterally alter the status quo was unacceptable.

He also said that China continues to be in “illegal occupation” of approximately 38,000 sq km in the Union Territory of Ladakh. In addition, under the so-called Sino-Pakistan ‘Boundary Agreement’ of 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq km of Indian territory in Pakistan-occupied- Kashmir to China.

He said China also claims approximately 90,000 sq km of Indian territory in the eastern Sector of the India-China boundary in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Defence Minister said the Chinese side has mobilised a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC as well as in the depth areas, adding 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 counter deployments in these areas to ensure that India’s security interests are fully protected,” he said. – PTI

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