India said on Thursday that deployment of a large number of troops by China and changes in behaviour along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has also been aggravated by unjustified and untenable claims and a continuation of the current situation would only vitiate the atmosphere for the development of the relationship.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that since early May, the Chinese side has been amassing a large contingent of troops and armaments along the LAC which is not in accordance with the provisions of 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 maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas is the basis of the bilateral relationship.

Srivastava said all infrastructure built by India has always been on its own side of the LAC and it has never undertaken any actions across the LAC and has never attempted to unilaterally change the status quo.

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“However, that has not been reciprocated by the Chinese side and that from time to time has led to face-offs, he said.

The spokesperson said that over many years, both sides have developed patterns of patrolling and it is a reasonable expectation that patrols will not be obstructed in the discharge of their legitimate duties.

He said that 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

“Unfortunately, we have experienced in the last many years obstruction to patrolling that often accompany efforts to unilaterally change the status quo. To provide for situations where the two sides encounter each other, a set of procedures and norms have been mutually agreed upon. These are reflected in a number of agreements and understandings. 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,” he said.

He also referred to China seeking to change its position in respect of Galwan Valley.

“The deployment of a large body of troops and changes in behaviour has also been aggravated by unjustified and untenable claims. The recent shift in the Chinese position on the Galwan Valley is one example,” he said.

“Maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas is the basis of the bilateral relationship. It is imperative that the established mechanisms are used by both parties to address the current situation. The meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) yesterday was, therefore, a significant development. It was preceded by a discussion among senior military commanders on June 22 that focused on the implementation of the understandings reached between them on 6 June 2020,” he said.

Referring to conversation between Foreign Ministers of two countries on June 17, he said they had agreed that the overall situation would be handled in a responsible manner, and that the disengagement understanding of June 6 would be implemented.

“We expect that 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 said.

Srivastava, who gave a detailed response to a volley of questions on the border tensions between India and China during the weekly vitural media briefing, said India has made its position clear on the unfolding developments in the western sector of India China Border areas in recent days.

Referring to MEA statement of June 20, Srivastava said it provided the relevant facts and clearly established it has been the Chinese actions thus far which have led to increase in tension in the region and also to the violent face-off of June 15 with casualties.

“In early May, the Chinese side had taken action to hinder India’s normal, traditional patrolling pattern in the Galwan Valley area. The resulting face-off was addressed by the ground commanders as per the provisions of the bilateral agreements and protocols,” he said.

“In mid-May, the Chinese side sought to change the status quo in other areas of the Western Sector. We had registered our protest on the Chinese actions through both the diplomatic and military channels, and made it clear that any such change was unacceptable to us,” he added.

The spokesperson said that subsequently, senior commanders met on June 6, 2020 and agreed on a process for de-escalation and disengagement along the LAC 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,” he said.

Referring to his statement on June 20, Srivastava 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.

“When this attempt was foiled, Chinese troops took violent actions on June 15, 2020 that directly resulted in casualties. Thereafter, both sides remain deployed in large numbers in the region, while military and diplomatic contacts are continuing,” he said.

The spokesperson said that incidents and face-offs along the LAC need to be understood in the larger context of recent developments and it also helps to bring out the key issues that both sides are seeking to address.

“At the heart of the matter is that since early May, the Chinese side has been amassing a large contingent of troops and armaments along the LAC. 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. This notes in particular that ‘each side will keep its military forces in the areas along the Line of Actual Control to a minimum level compatible with friendly and good neighbourly relations between the two countries’. Obviously, the Indian side had to undertake counter deployments and the resulting tension has thereafter expressed itself,” he said.

The spokesperson said that respecting and strictly observing the Line of Actual Control is the basis for peace and tranquillity in the border areas and explicitly recognized so in the 1993 and subsequent agreements.

He said Indian troops are fully familiar with the alignment of the LAC in all sectors of the India-China border areas and abide scrupulously by it.

“They have been patrolling all along the LAC, including in the Galwan Valley, for a long time. All infrastructure built by the Indian side has always been on its own side of the LAC. The Indian side has never undertaken any actions across the LAC and has never attempted to unilaterally change the status quo,” he said.

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