NEW DELHI: In a major threshold shift along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China fired bullets during its movement in the Chushul area in eastern Ladakh on Monday evening. This was the first time in 45 years that bullets were fired along the LAC.
While China sought to turn the narrative into an act of aggression and crossing of the LAC by the Indian Army, the defence ministry here rebutted it, saying it was the PLA that had tried to aggressively close in to an Indian position on Monday evening.
When India tried to dissuade them, the PLA fired a few rounds in the air to provoke and intimidate the soldiers, the ministry asserted.
India and China have loads of confidence building measures and agreements, which bar both sides from the use of firearms within 2 km radius of the LAC.
Before Monday’s flare-up, the last recorded incident of firing was in 1975, again by the PLA, which had crossed the LAC in Tulung La in Arunachal Pradesh and ambushed a patrol of Assam Rifles jawans, killing four of them.
Setting the record straight, Indian Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand said it was the PLA that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres, though engagements at the military, diplomatic and political levels are in progress. At no stage has Indian Army transgressed across the LAC or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing, he emphasised.
“In the instant case on 7 September 2020, it was the PLA troops who were attempting to close in on one of our forward positions along the LAC and when dissuaded by own troops, PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate own troops,” the ministry stated.
“Despite the grave provocation, (our) own troops exercised great restraint and behaved in a mature and responsible manner,” it added.
China, however, stuck to its script of blaming India for Monday’s flare-up, saying it was the Indian side that resorted to firing first.
“It was the Indian side that fired first in the Monday incident in which Indian troops again illegally crossed the LAC and outrageously fired warning shots at Chinese border defence patrol personnel who were attempting to negotiate,”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian alleged.
Zhao said China has made representations to India through military and diplomatic channels. “Differences should be resolved through peaceful talks. Confrontation benefits neither side,” he added. Monday’s incident comes days ahead of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s interaction with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on the sidelines of the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting.
Just a few days ago, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had met his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe, where he categorically stated India’s position.
Zhao’s comments came after the Western Theatre Command spokesperson Senior Colonel Zhang Shuili late on Monday claimed that Indian troops had crossed the LAC into the Shenpao region on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso.
Meanwhile, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat held a meeting in South Block with the Defence Secretary and the three services chiefs to analyse the current situation in Eastern Ladakh.
INDIA-CHINA 1996 AGREEMENT BARS OPENING OF FIRE NEAR LAC
INDIA and China have exchanged accusations of the use of firearms at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) just four days after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Chinese counterpart Gen Wei Fenghe held talks in Moscow on ways to ease tensions at the border.
They met last Friday on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet. Here are agreements between the two nations on the use of firearms along the LAC:
How many agreements do India and China have in place regarding the LAC?
India and China have signed three bilateral agreements and have a Confidence Building Mechanism (CBM) in place with regard to the dos and don’ts along the Line of Actual Control. The three agreements were signed in 1993, 1996 and 2005.
Do the agreements prohibit the use of firearms along the LAC?
The 1996 India-China border agreement states that “neither side shall open fire, cause biodegradation, use hazardous chemicals, conduct blast operations or hunt with guns or explosives within 2 km from the LAC”.
However, the pact exempts routine firing activities in small firing ranges.
The 1993 agreement is based on the five principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful existence, and maintenance of peace and tranquillity in areas along the Line of Actual Control.
The 2005 agreement reiterated India and China’s commitment to honour the 1993 and 1996 agreements and implement them effectively.
Are any other measures in place apart from the agreements?
Though there are no formal measures apart from the agreements and the CBMs, the leaders of the two countries — PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping — at the Wuhan Informal Summit
and the Chennai dialogue had committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity along the LAC and resolving all issues related to the boundary through dialogue. Apart from this, there is a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China border affairs. The channel allows diplomatic engagement to resolve all boundary related issues.
The two representatives on border issues — NSA Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi — have a mechanism in place for dialogue related to border issues.
Around 50 Chinese PLA soldiers approached aggressively towards Indian post near Mukhpari peak about 6 pm on Monday.
The intention of the PLA men was to dislodge Indian troops from strategic heights in Mukhpari peak and Rezang La areas in east Ladakh.
Carrying rods, spears, sharp weapons and rifles, the PLA men approach-ed the Indian post. The Indian side caught it on camera.
When the Indian Army dissuaded the PLA, they fired 10-15 rounds in the air to intimidate our troops. The aggression was repulsed.
Armed to the teeth
The rods with machetes fixed to them on one end carried by all the Chinese soldiers (above); and the guns (top) they carryied as well.