The Indian government put off a high-level meeting of officials that was to be held in New Delhi on Thursday to discuss alleged Chinese border intrusions.
The meeting was expected to be chaired by National Security Adviser M K Narayanan. Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar, Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar, Home Secretary G K Pillai and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao were to attend.
No reason was given for its postponement. But reliable sources said this followed differences between the external affairs ministry and the Prime Minister's Office on the one hand and the defence ministry on the other.
The external affairs ministry has publicly tried to downplay the reported incursions, saying they are routine incidents that occur due to variations in perception about the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which de facto marks the Sino-Indian frontier.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has cautioned against creating 'excessive alarm' over the reported developments and stressed that India's border with China had been 'most peaceful'.
The defence ministry has pitched for a more assertive approach vis-a-vis the alleged incursions, which Beijing has denied.
The defence ministry wants curbs on army patrolling of the border lifted and a more pro-active approach towards building border infrastructure that lags far behind China's.
Currently, there are patrolling restrictions in certain 'sensitive areas' of LAC to avoid possible clashes with Chinese troops.
AIADMK chief Jayalalitha on Thursday accused the Congress-led government of lethargy in dealing with the Chinese incursions and ceasefire violations by Pakistan.
She described reports about Chinese intrusions in certain places and firing by the Pakistani Army as 'alarming' and contended that India gave these countries a clean chit even before they went into a denial mode.
"What we want is a government with steel in its spine, not jelly. Otherwise, India would become a punching bag, hit around by just about anyone who takes a fancy to do so," she said in a statement.
India and China have held 13 rounds of talks to resolve the border row that led to a war in 1962. But this has led to little progress, with both sides reiterating their stated positions.