Galwan Valley face-off: In strong statement, India blames China
In what qualifies as India's strongest statement since the face-off at the Galwan Valley, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on Thursday China's conduct along the border defied all mutually agreed norms. India's statement, backed with facts, establishes China is responsible for the combat on June 15, which led to casualties, Srivastava added. Here are more details on what he said.
Tensions between the neighbors sparked after China protested against India's infrastructure push in the tough terrain, seeing it as trespassing. This June, a violent face-off ensued in the Galwan Valley, wherein 20 Indian soldiers, including a commanding officer of Bihar Regiment, were martyred. For the first time since 1962 Sino-India war did the area witness bloodbath. Soon, dialogue was initiated at several levels.
Unwilling to make amends after the clash, Beijing has claimed the entire Galwan Valley, evoking a strong rebuttal from India. Yesterday, explaining the series of events that led to the face-off, Srivastava said China attempted to hinder India's patrolling in early May, and a clash followed. This was the first time that New Delhi accepted that a combat happened weeks before June 15's incident.
In fact, Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, also shed light on the clash on May 6, during an interview with news agency PTI. He claimed Indian troops crossed over the LAC in the Galwan Valley. "They resorted to violent means to create a standoff between the two sides and built infrastructures in an attempt to maintain a permanent presence," he asserted.
Srivastava said after May's face-off, India registered a strong protest, both through diplomatic and military channels. The June 6 meeting of senior military officers from both sides was meant to douse tensions, he explained. "Both sides had agreed to respect and abide by the LAC and not undertake any activity to alter the status quo," he revealed. But China didn't uphold the agreement.
"The Chinese side departed from these understandings in respect of LAC in the Galwan Valley area and sought to erect structures just across LAC. When this attempt was foiled, Chinese troops took violent actions on June 15, 2020, that directly resulted in casualties," he said.
Diving deeper, Srivastava said China amassed troops along LAC since early May. "This is not in accordance with the provisions of our various bilateral agreements, especially the key 1993 Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas," he said. As per this agreement, each side should keep minimum troops in the area.
Saying that Indian troops follow all agreements and never attempt to change status quo, Srivastava added, "While there have been occasional departures in the past, the conduct of Chinese forces this year has been in complete disregard of all mutually agreed norms.."
Further, Srivastava said the behavior along LAC has also been aggravated by China's "untenable claims". "The maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas is the basis of our bilateral relationship. It is imperative that the established mechanisms are used by both parties to address the current situation," he added. He said foreign ministries had agreed to resolve the dispute amicably.
"We expect the Chinese side to sincerely follow up on this understanding and ensure the expeditious restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas. A continuation of the current situation would only vitiate the atmosphere for the development of the relationship," he concluded.