NEW DELHI, July 23: In yet another strong message to China, India on Thursday said while New Delhi is fully committed to observing and respecting Line of Actual Control, it will not accept any attempt to change the status quo. Addressing a press conference in the national capital, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Shrivastava said, “India is fully committed to observing and respecting Line of Actual Control and we will not accept any attempt to change the status quo.’’
The MEA official further said that “it is our expectation that China will sincerely work with India for complete de-escalation and disengagement.’’
Maintenance of peace and tranquillity in border areas is the basis of our bilateral ties, the top-ranking MEA official said while referring to questions on the border row with China.
“I have made clear the position of the Government as regards the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) along the India-China border areas through a number of statements in the last several weeks. As conveyed earlier, respecting and strictly abiding by the LAC is the basis of peace and tranquillity in the border areas. Several agreements concluded by India and China since 1993 firmly acknowledge this. In my statement of June 26th, I had noted that the conduct of Chinese forces this year, including the deployment of a large body of troops and changes in behaviour, accompanied by unjustified and untenable claims, has been in complete disregard of all the mutual agreements. We have also made it clear that India is fully committed to observing and respecting the LAC and that we will not accept any unilateral attempts to change the status quo along the LAC,’’ the MEA spokesperson said.
His remarks came in the wake of reports that China is not de-escalating situation at the LAC since no movement was seen in the past one week at Finger 5 and Pangong Lake areas.
The report quoting sources stated that the Chinese are also not honouring their commitment for disengagement at the friction points in Eastern Ladakh and not moving back as per the agreed terms during the multiple rounds of talks at the government and Army level.
“The Chinese have not shown any signs of de-escalation as they continue to maintain their heavy troop deployment of almost 40,000 troops supported by heavy weaponry like air defence systems, armoured personnel carriers and long-range artillery in front and depth areas,” the report said quoting sources.
The disengagement process has also not made any progress since the last round of talks between the two Corps Commanders held last week and ground positions have also not changed, the sources said.
It has been found that the Indian and Chinese troops have pulled back at Pangong Lake by 2-km and Finger 4 is empty. However, the Chinese are still camping on the ridgeline. This clearly indicates that the Chinese had camped at Finger 4 that had traditionally been under the Indian control.
Srivastava added that the two sides have agreed during the conversation of the Special Representatives to work towards complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquillity.
“Both sides are engaged in discussions through the established diplomatic and military channels to achieve this objective expeditiously. I had informed last week that the 4th round of the meeting of the Senior Commanders was held on 14th July, where they also discussed further steps to ensure complete disengagement. In this context, another meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) is also expected to be scheduled soon. As we have stated earlier, the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas is the basis of our bilateral relationship. Therefore, it is our expectation that the Chinese side will sincerely work with us for complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas at the earliest as agreed to by the Special Representatives,” the MEA official said.
To a question on connectivity with Bangladesh, he added, “Today, we marked another historic achievement towards strengthening India Bangladesh maritime and economic partnership. The first time ever movement of container cargo from Kolkata to Agartala through the Chattogram Port was successfully concluded. The cargo was received this morning by Chief Minister of Tripura Shri Biplab Kumar Deb. With this, the distance and time taken in the transportation of goods for India particularly the northeastern states will get reduced. It will enhance business services and revenue generation in Bangladesh. The logistical sector will also get a big boost.”
He further stated that “this movement was undertaken under the Agreement on use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports for movement of India’s transit cargo through Bangladesh. The SOPs for this were finalized during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in October 2019. This development is in line with the vision that the two countries have towards further strengthening bilateral connectivity and a mutually beneficial partnership aimed at benefitting people on both sides.”
Srivastava also informed that over 7.88 lakh Indians stranded abroad due to coronavirus pandemic have returned under Vande Bharat Mission till July 22. Srivastava said 1,03,976 Indians who have returned from Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh through land borders
“As of July 22, under the Vande Bharat Mission a total of 7,88, 217 Indian Nationals have returned and this includes 1,03,976 Indians who have returned from Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh through land borders,” he said.
The government started Vande Bharat Mission on May 7 to evacuate Indians stuck in foreign countries due to suspension of flights owing to coronavirus pandemic. The mission is in its fourth phase now. (Agencies)