India on Thursday again accused the Chinese of crossing the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh on June 15. It also asked Beijing to not take any unilateral action to alter the LAC, but said the two sides were in regular touch.
Earlier in the day, China said the situation in the area was “generally stable and controllable”, but it stuck to its stated position that the violence on June 15 was caused by Indian frontline forces crossing the LAC. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the violence in the valley on June 15. There is as yet no confirmed figure on the Chinese deaths and injuries, but it has indicated that its troops also suffered casualties. Meanwhile, the Indian Army trashed reports claiming that a number of its soldiers went missing after the violent clashes with Chinese troops.
“At the ground level the two sides have maintained communication at the commanders’ level. Meetings of other established diplomatic mechanisms such as Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on Border Affairs are under discussion,” the Ministry of External Affairs said.
The Chinese foreign ministry said the two sides “can properly handle the current situation under the guidance of the spirit of the important consensus between the leaders of the two countries” and jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in the border areas.
In New Delhi, the Opposition questioned the Centre. In a video tweet, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi sought to know why Indian soldiers were “sent unarmed to martyrdom” and who sent them. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar replied: “Let us get the facts straight. All troops on border duty always carry arms, especially when leaving post. Those at Galwan on June 15 did so. Longstanding practice (as per 1996 and 2005 agreements) not to use firearms during faceoffs.”
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said: “If the unit was armed, as is being claimed now, the second-in-command should have ordered firing the moment the commanding officer fell to the Chinese treachery.” “Somebody failed to do his job out there, and we need to find out who that was”.
On June 6, it said, the corps commanders of India and China held a meeting where an agreement was reached on de-escalation and disengagement along the LAC. The MEA said the faceoff happened when the Chinese side unilaterally attempted to change the status quo. The MEA said India’s activities were always within the Indian side. “We expect the Chinese side to also confine it activities to its side of the LAC,” the MEA said.
Jaishankar will attend a virtual meet of the Russia-India-China trilateral on June 23.