Earlier this week, there had been a violent clash at the Indo-China border in eastern Ladakh that left 20 Indian Army officials dead, and others injured. While army officials had said that the altercation happened after Chinese troops attempted to "unilaterally change" the status quo during de-escalation efforts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that Chinese troops did not intrude into the Indian territory.
Following his comments, China had repeated its claim that the Galwan valley of Ladakh union territory is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in an official statement that Chinese troops had been patrolling this region "for many years". He alleged that Indian border troops have unilaterally and continuously built roads, bridges and other facilities at the LAC in the Galwan Valley since April this year.
The statement contained a step by step account of the Galwan Valley clash, as per the Chinese side.fully familiar with the alignment of LAC in all sectors of India-China border areas
Now, a day later, India's Foreign Ministry has responded to the same. In a lengthy statement issued by the MEA Spokesperson, India has reiterated that its position with regards the Galwan Valley area has been "historically clear".
"Attempts by Chinese side to now advance exaggerated and untenable claims with regard to LAC there aren't acceptable. They aren't in accordance with China’s own past position," the statement said.
Countering China's allegations that Indian troops had entered their territory, the MEA said that Indian soldiers were "fully familiar with the alignment of LAC in all sectors of India-China border areas", and adhered to it.
"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," it added.
The MEA Spokesperson said that since May, the Chinese have been "hindering India's normal patrolling pattern in the area".
"This resulted in face-off which was addressed by ground commanders. We don't accept the contention that India was unilaterally changing status quo. On the contrary, we were maintaining it," the MEA has countered. It alleged that in mid-May Chinese troops had attempted to "transgress the LAC in other areas of the Western Sector of the India-China border areas".
The statement recounts the bilateral discussions that had been taking place to "address the situation arising out of Chinese activities on the LAC".
While the two sides had agreed to abide by the LAC and not undertake any activity that would alter the status quo, the MEA said that the Chinese side had deviated. Allegedly, they had "sought to erect structures just across the LAC".
"When this attempt was foiled, Chinese troops took violent actions on 15 June 2020 that directly resulted in casualties," the letter adds.
(With inputs from agencies)