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‘None can stop Army patrolling the borders’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 17, 2020 Published on September 17, 2020

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh addressing the Rajya Sabha during the ongoing Monsoon Session , in New Delhi on Thursday   -  PTI

China continues to be in illegal occupation of approximately 38,000 sq km in Ladakh, says Rajnath Singh

No one can stop Indian Army’s patrolling at the border areas, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Parliament replying to queries from elders on a statement he made on Thursday. Singh said the problems with China are regarding patrolling and the Indian Army is doing its duty along the borders. Their sacrifice was for protecting the right to patrol Indian borders.

‘Unresolved’

He maintained that India and China are yet to resolve their boundary question.

“China does not accept the customary and traditional alignment of the boundary between India and China. We believe that this alignment is based on well-established geographical principles confirmed by treaties and agreements, as well as historical usage and practice, well-known for centuries to both sides. The Chinese position, however, is that the boundary between the two countries has not been formally delimited, that there exists a traditional customary line formed by the extent of jurisdiction that they claim was exercised historically by each side, and that the two sides have different interpretations of the position of the traditional customary line,” Singh said.

‘Illegal occupation’

He said China continues to be in illegal occupation of approximately 38,000 sq km in the Union Territory of Ladakh. “In addition, under the so-called Sino-Pakistan ‘Boundary Agreement’ of 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq km of Indian territory in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to China. China also claims approximately 90,000 sq km. of Indian territory in the Eastern Sector of the India-China boundary in Arunachal Pradesh,” the Defence Minister said.

Singh said both the countries have formally agreed that the boundary question is a complex issue which requires patience and have committed to seeking a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution through dialogue and peaceful negotiations. “In the interim, the two sides also agree that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas is an essential basis for the further development of bilateral relations,” he said.

He said the Indian side had noticed a build-up of troops and armaments by the Chinese side in the border areas adjacent to Eastern Ladakh since April. “In early May, the Chinese side had taken action to hinder the normal, traditional patrolling pattern of our troops in the Galwan Valley area, which resulted in a face-off,” the senior BJP leader said.

Seeking clarifications on Singh’s statement, deputy leader of the Congress in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said the country is proud of its Army and the sacrifices made by the soldiers to protect the border. “There should be no doubt on this and the entire nation would stand together,” he said and asked: “Do we understand that the restoration of the status quo ante will remain a non-negotiable and final objective for India?”

Former Defence Minister AK Antony asked Singh to clarify that sovereignty means status quo ante as on the middle of April. “That is the meaning of sovereignty,” he said. “Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh was never a disputed site. Even at Galwan Valley, our soldiers are now not allowed to patrol at the point at which they used to patrol earlier. In the Pangong area, in a more than eight-kilometre area they are not allowing us to patrol, the area which we used to patrol. Previously, we used to patrol till Finger 8 and now we are not being allowed to patrol till Finger 8,” Antony said and added that the Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) should be allowed to patrol at the point where they used to patrol earlier.

Singh’s reply was specifically to this question of Antony.

Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said there should be no compromise with China. “They should go back to the position where they were in April,” Azad said.

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Published on September 17, 2020
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