New Delhi:India on Thursday pushed back against China’s efforts to deflect responsibility for delays in the disengagement process in Ladakh sector, saying Beijing should sincerely work for de-escalation and not make further attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The Indian side also insisted on implementing the consensus reached by the Indian foreign and defence ministers and their Chinese counterparts at meetings in Moscow earlier this month for “quick and complete disengagement of troops from all friction areas along the LAC”.
The move came soon after China’s foreign ministry called on India for the second consecutive day to “immediately correct its wrong practices, disengage on the ground as soon as possible and take concrete actions to ease tensions” on the border.
“The Chinese side should sincerely work with the Indian side for complete disengagement at the earliest from all friction areas, including Pangong Lake, as well as de-escalation in border areas in accordance with the bilateral agreements and protocols on maintenance of peace and tranquillity in border areas,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told a weekly news briefing.
“We hope the Chinese side will strictly respect and observe the LAC and not make further attempts to unilaterally change the status quo,” he added.
Srivastava’s remarks suggested the two sides hadn’t been able to move forward with the five-point roadmap hammered out by external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in their talks on the margins of a meeting of foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Moscow on September 10. The roadmap envisages that both sides “should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions”.
“Both sides should, therefore, focus on easing tensions in the friction areas by refraining from any actions that may lead to an escalation in the situation. This requires strict adherence to the bilateral agreements and protocols and not making unilateral attempts to change the status quo,” Srivastava said.
Tensions have spiked on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake, where troops from the two sides are within close range of each other and where there have been several instances of firing since late August – the first time guns have been used along the LAC since 1975. Experts say India is keen to tamp down tensions in this area, and at other friction points such as Gogra and Kongka La.
Srivastava also noted that defence minister Rajnath Singh stated categorically in Lok Sabha on Tuesday and in Rajya Sabha on Thursday that India is committed to a peaceful dialogue through diplomatic and military channels.