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Ladakh Standoff: Indian General accuses China of causing mutual distrust

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A day after India confirmed the start of troops disengagement process at Pangong Tso as a first step to resolve the nine-month military standoff in Ladakh, Indian Army chief General MM Naravane accused China of attempting to unilaterally alter the status quo along our disputed borders that has created an environment of confrontation and mutual distrust.

Speaking Friday at the seminar on 'Evolving security challenges in the North-East and Way Forward', General Naravane said: "The rising footprints of China in India's neighborhood and its attempts to unilaterally alter the status-quo along our disputed borders have created an environment of confrontation and mutual distrust."

He said the regional security environment is "characterized by Chinese belligerence in the Indo-Pacific, its hostility towards weaker nations and relentless drive to create regional dependencies through initiatives like the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative). The resultant Sino-US rivalry has created regional imbalances and instability".

General Naravane's remarks come at a time when Indian and Chinese forces are fast disengaging from their eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation on the north bank of Pangong Tso as well as the south bank-Kailash range of mountains in the Chushul sector in Eastern Ladakh.

Territorial claims in Galwan Valley

Tellingly, hours after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi targeted the Narendra Modi-led government alleging that it has given up the country's territory to China, the Ministry of Defense on Friday asserted that India has not conceded any territory as a result of the agreement finalized with Beijing for disengagement of troops in Pangong Tso (lake) areas in eastern Ladakh.

On the north bank of Pangong lake, there are eight major finger-like spurs coming down to the lake. From heights along these spurs, one can observe military activity on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso.

The Chinese and Indian (perceived) LACs are about 8 kilometres apart (between Finger 4 and Finger 8) in this area. In May, the PLA occupied this disputed area, deployed troops on Finger 4, and blocked Indian troops, which used to earlier patrol the areas up to Finger 8, according to former Chief of Army Staff General V P Malik.

"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 occupation of China since 1962," the Defense Ministry statement reported by Indian Express.

"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. Permanent posts of both sides at the north bank of Pangong Tso are longstanding and well-established," it added.

"On the contrary, it has enforced observance and respect for LAC and prevented any unilateral change in the status quo," it further said.

Pangong Tso lake

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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