India said the position with regard to the Galwan Valley area has been historically clear and attempts by the Chinese side to now advance “exaggerated and untenable” claims about the Line of Actual Control are not acceptable. China has thrice claimed sovereignty over the Valley since the June 15 violence, which left 20 Indian soldiers dead and also resulted in casualties on the Chinese side. This is possibly the first time that Beijing has claimed the entire Valley which has remained free of incursions till the recent face-off.
Rejecting the Chinese claims on Galwan Valley, the government said it expects the Chinese side will “sincerely follow the understanding reached between Indian and Chinese foreign ministers to ensure peace and tranquility in border areas, which is so essential for the overall development of our bilateral relations”.
While China had claimed India had entered Chinese territory by crossing the Galwan estuary on June 15, violating the consensus reached at the meeting of the senior commanders, India asked China not to misrepresent the understandings arrived at during the discussions. Indian authorities pointed to reports that Chinese claims had never in the past extended to the estuary.
The MEA, in a statement, said that Indian troops are fully familiar with the alignment of the LAC in all sectors of the India-China border areas, including in the Galwan Valley. “They abide by it scrupulously here, as they do elsewhere. The Indian side has never undertaken any actions across the LAC,” said spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, adding that Indian troops had in fact been patrolling this area for a long time without any incident.
“All infrastructure built by the Indian side is naturally on its own side of the LAC,” he added. Strongly denying China’s allegation that India was unilaterally changing the status quo, the government said it was India which was actually maintaining it.
The government also expressed hope that China will abide by the understanding reached between foreign ministers S Jaishankar and Wang Yi to ensure peace in the border areas which was so essential for the overall development of bilateral relations.
China had claimed in its “step-by-step” account that India had been “unilaterally” constructing roads and bridges at the LAC in the region since April and that Indian troops had crossed the border on May 6 to build “fortification and barricades”. India responded saying that since early May, the Chinese had been hindering India’s “normal, traditional patrolling pattern” in this area.
This had resulted in a face-off which was addressed by the ground commanders as per the provisions of the bilateral agreements and protocols, said the MEA.
Subsequently in mid-May, the Chinese side attempted to “transgress” the LAC in other areas of the western sector of the India-China border areas and that these attempts were invariably met with an appropriate response from India, the government said. “Thereafter, the two sides were engaged in discussions through established diplomatic and military channels to address the situation arising out of Chinese activities on the LAC,” said the official.
The MEA spokesperson said the June 6 meeting saw an agreement for initiating LAC de-escalation that involved reciprocal actions. Both sides had agreed to respect and abide by the LAC and not undertake any activity to alter the status quo. However, the MEA said, the Chinese side departed from these understandings in respect of the LAC in the Galwan Valley area and sought to erect structures just across the LAC (Indian side of LAC as sources clarified). When this attempt was foiled, Chinese troops took violent actions on 15 June, 2020 that directly resulted in casualties, said the official.
“The two ministers (Jaishankar and Wang Yi) also agreed that the overall situation would be handled in a responsible manner, and that both sides would implement the disengagement understanding of 6 June sincerely. The two sides are in regular touch and early meetings of military and diplomatic mechanisms are currently being discussed,” said Srivastava.