Srinagar: Two days before India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar meets his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow, there are reports of an incident of firing and a scuffle between the Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Monday.
The incident took place on the Rezang-La-Rechin La ridgeline on the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh sector. Reports suggest that some Indian troopers sustained injuries as well.
Quoting a top Indian official, Hindustan Times reported that the situation is tense but both sides are talking to each other at the ground commander level. Apparently, the situation reached criticality on Monday evening after a stand-off between aggressive PLA troops and Indian troops on Rechin La. The stand-off started at 6:15 PM.
While India is yet to issue a formal statement on the latest clash, China’s military described Monday’s confrontation as “a serious military provocation”.
China’s military in a statement late on Monday accused India of “outrageously firing warning shots” in a new confrontation on September 7 on the south bank of Pangong Lake in the Chushul sector, which has seen escalating tensions for the past week.
In a late-night statement released at 01.30 am Beijing time (11 pm IST), PLA Senior Colonel Zhang Shuili, spokesperson of the Western Theatre Command, said “on September 7, the Indian army illegally crossed the LAC and entered the south bank of Pangong Lake and the Shenpao mountain area in the the western section of the Sino-Indian border.”
He accused Indian troops of “outrageously firing shots on Chinese border patrols soldiers who were about to negotiate,” the state-run Global Times newspaper reported.
“The Indian side’s move seriously violated related agreements reached by both sides, stirred up tensions in the region, and would easily cause misunderstandings and misjudgments, which is a serious military provocation and is very vile in nature,” the statement said.
“We demand the Indian side to immediately stop dangerous moves, withdraw personnel who crossed the LAC at once, strictly control frontline troops, seriously investigate and punish the personnel who fired the provocative shot and ensure similar incidents won’t take place again.”
It added that the “PLA Western Theatre Command troops will firmly fulfil duties and missions and resolutely safeguard national territorial sovereignty.”
The Chinese statement suggested the on-going stand-off south of Pangong Lake marks the most serious escalation in the recent tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) since the June 15 clash in Galwan Valley, when 20 Indian soldiers were killed. Shots were not fired during the Galwan clash.
No shots have been fired along the India-China border since 1975.
Tensions have been high in this sector since August 29. India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said last week Chinese troops engaged in “provocative action” on August 29 trying to change the status quo in the south bank, which forced India to take pre-emptive moves. India has since occupied key heights in the areas in Chushul sector.
The Foreign Ministers of the two countries are expected to meet on Thursday in Moscow, where they are attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers’ meeting. The two Defence Ministers met in Moscow on Friday at an SCO Defence Ministers’ meet, but the talks failed to make headway.
The talks between the two sides have been going on for the last three months including five Lieutenant General-level talks but have failed to yield any results, so far.
Brigadier-level talks have been on-going to discuss the new stand-off in the Chushul sector, but have also not yet appeared to have achieved a breakthrough.
India and China are engaged in a stand-off since April-May in multiple areas including Finger area, Galwan valley, Hot springs and Kongrung Nala. The situation worsened after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan valley in June.
India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Monday said the situation at Eastern Ladakh was “very serious” and called for “deep conversations between the two sides at the political level”.
With inputs from The Hindu, Hindustan Times and ANI
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