Priyanka Chaturvedi, veteran leader of the Shiv Sena and Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament (MP), on Wednesday (January 20) sent a letter to Union Ministers S Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh in context to the alarming situation that has been unfolding over China building new settlements inside Indian territory at Arunachal Pradesh.
The development comes amid the ongoing face-off between India and China, which is yet to meet its decisive resolution.
The letters were sent out to Minister of External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to bring the central government's "urgent attention" to the issue, that has hogged the news headlines ever since the satellite images were unveiled in the public domain.
"This is to bring to your urgent attention the building of new settlements by China in Indian Territory of Arunachal Pradesh, within past year, as per the satellite images available in public domain," wrote the Shiv Sena MP in her letter.
"As per the news reports, this newly-built Chinese village is approximately within 4.5 kms of our Territory of the de facto border. As per the official government maps this area is part of Indian Territory but has been in Chinese control since 1959. However, while earlier only a Chinese military post existed in these areas, this time a full-fledged village has been built in it and the military post has been upgraded," the letter added.
For the uninitiated, media reports indicate that China has resorted to construction in the border area in Arunachal Pradesh. Earlier reports had said that China had been constructing three new villages near Arunachal Pradesh border.
While Chaturvedi, in her letter, highlighted that China has been stepping up expansionism in the borderlands, she made sure to throw in a jab at the Centre, noting that the Government of India "is not even willing to call China out by name".
The Shiv Sena leader also highlighted that by constructing these villages, China is borderline violating international law.
Her letter states:
"The area where these villages have come up may be disputed, but international law forbids unilateral change of the status quo in such disupted territories. China's construction of a village is just the latest example of how it is encroaching on areas inside India. China has no land claim in this occupied region that can be backed by international law. However now by constructing villages that were uninhabited but strategically important ones, it is seeking to challenge international law. The construction of this village is a violation of a key part of multiple agreements reached by China with India that asked the two sides to strictly respect and observe the line of actual control and work together to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas."
Finally, Chaturvedi pointed out the list of intrusions by China and urged the central government to "be transparent and clarify" the matter.
She framed three distinct questions for the Union Ministers to answer:
1. How much of our land at present has been illegally occupied by China since 1947 onwards and as per Goi records the chronology of occupation of these parcels of lands?
2. What is the change in the status quo since 2014 -- have we recovered any land illegally occupied by China or have we given up claim on them as justified by cabinet ministers and leaders?
3. What is the Government of India doing to recover these occupied territories and have we lost any new territory since 2014?
4. What stops us from seeking accountability from China considering the current government came on the plank of prioritizing nationalism & border security?
Notably, in a cautious reaction to the reports, India had on Monday said that it keeps a constant watch on all developments having a bearing on the country's security, and takes necessary measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Monday said that it has seen recent reports of China undertaking construction work in areas along border with India and asserted that the government is keeping a watch on all relevant developments.
The MEA said China has undertaken such infrastructure construction in the past several years and the government too has stepped up border infrastructure which has provided much-needed connectivity to the local population
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC). China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet, while India contests it.
India and China are locked in a bitter border standoff in eastern Ladakh for over eight months.
India and China have held several rounds of military and diplomatic talks in order to resolve the standoff, but no significant headway has been made for its resolution.
(With inputs from agencies)