New Delhi: Issuing a nine-point counter argument to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s accusations on the disengagement process in Ladakh, Centre on Friday asserted that India has not conceded any territory to China and there are differences yet to be resolved.
“India has not conceded any territory as a result of this agreement. On the contrary, it has enforced observance and respect for LAC (Line of Actual Control) and prevented any unilateral change in the status quo,” a statement from the Defence Ministry read.
“Raksha Mantri’s (Defence Minister Rajnath Singh) statement also made clear that there are outstanding problems to be addressed, including at Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang. The outstanding issues are to be taken up within 48 hrs of the completion of the Pangong Tso disengagement,” it further read.
The rebuttal came just hours after Mr. Gandhi held a press conference, asking five questions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government about the breakthrough announced on Thursday after the months-long standoff between Indian and Chinese forces in Ladakh.
The Congress chief also accused PM Modi of “bowing down to China” and that he has “ceded” Indian territory to the Chinese. He further claimed that Indian forces had been pulled back to the third “finger” or ridge in the Pangong Tso area even though troops were traditionally stationed till “Finger 4”.
The Defence Ministry firmly denied this charge, stating, “The assertion that Indian territory is up to Finger 4 is categorically false. The territory of India is as depicted by the map of India and includes more than 43,000 sq km currently under illegal occupation of China since 1962.”
“Even the Line of Actual Control (LAC), as per the Indian perception, is at Finger 8, not at Finger 4. That is why India has persistently maintained the right to patrol up to Finger 8, including in the current understanding with China,” it added.
“Permanent posts of both sides at the north bank of Pangong Tso are longstanding and well-established. On the Indian side, it is Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3 and on the Chinese side, east of Finger 8. The current agreement provides for cessation of forward deployment by both sides and continued deployment at these permanent posts,” it further said.
The government also criticised those who were casting doubt on the “achievements” in Ladakh saying they were disrespecting the armed forces.
On February 11, India and China disengaged its troops and battle tanks from the bitterly contested Pangong Tso lake area high in the western Himalayas. Reporting the same Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday told parliament the two sides had reached an agreement after several rounds of talks.
The standoff between two Asian giants began in April last year when India said Chinese troops had impinged deep into its side of the Line of Actual Control or the de facto border in the Ladakh area in the western Himalayas. The tension escalated between the two neighbouring countries in June when both the sides clashed, killing 20 Indian soldiers and nearly 45 Chinese military personnel dead, as per reports.