India on Saturday rejected Chinese claims of sovereignty over the Galwan Valley saying the position with regard to the area has been historically clear and attempts by China to make “exaggerated and untenable” claims with regard to Line of Actual Control (LAC) are not acceptable. And, it added, “They are not in accordance with China’s own position in the past.”
Rejecting China’s statement that India was unilaterally changing the status quo, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said that, in fact, it was India that was maintaining status quo. India also dismissed Chinese claims that its soldiers violated the LAC in May and alleged that it was the Chinese side that has been attempting to transgress the LAC and that these attempts were met with an appropriate response by Indian soldiers.
“Attempts by the Chinese side to now advance exaggerated and untenable claims with regard to LAC there (Galwan Valley) are not acceptable. They are not in accordance with China’s own position in the past. Indian troops are fully familiar with the alignment of the LAC in all sectors of the India-China border areas, including in the Galwan Valley. They abide by it scrupulously here, as they do elsewhere. The Indian side has never undertaken any actions across the LAC. In fact, they have been patrolling this area for a long time without any incident. All infrastructure built by the Indian side is naturally on its own side of the LAC,” said Anurag Srivastava, MEA spokesperson.
Responding sharply to the statement by the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Friday on the events in the Galwan Valley area, Mr Srivastava gave a detailed account of the incident. The MEA official said that since early May 2020, the Chinese side has been hindering India's normal, traditional patrolling pattern in this area which had resulted in a face-off that was addressed by the ground commanders as per the provisions of the bilateral agreements and protocols.
“Subsequently in mid-May, the Chinese side attempted to transgress the LAC in other areas of the Western Sector of the India-China border areas. These attempts were invariably met with an appropriate response from us. Thereafter, the two sides were engaged in discussions through established diplomatic and military channels to address the situation arising out of Chinese activities on the LAC…We do not accept the contention that India was unilaterally changing the status quo. On the contrary, we were maintaining it,” the MEA spokesperson said.
He added that the senior commanders met on June 6, 2020, and agreed on a process for de-escalation and disengagement along the LAC that involved reciprocal actions. “However, 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,” he added.
On Friday, Mr Zhao had said that the Galwan Valley is located on the Chinese side of the LAC. He accused India of violating the agreement the two countries had reached on June 6 regarding the LAC, calling it a "deliberate provocation" on New Delhi's part. "The rights and wrongs... are very clear and the responsibility rests entirely with the Indian side".