Dialogue on with China over LAC, no compromise on dignity: Rajnath Singh
India and China are talking to each other at military and diplomatic levels to resolve the weeks-long Ladakh standoff, defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Saturday assuring the country that the government will not allow India’s dignity to be hurt under any circumstances.
“India’s policy has been very clear that we should have good relations with all neighbours. This has been a long-standing effort. But sometimes, circumstances arise with China and things like this happen,” he told news channel Aaj Tak in an interview.
Singh’s statement is the first from a senior central minister on the standoff with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that threatens to plunge the bilateral relationship to a new low.
China has marshalled close to 5,000 soldiers and deployed tanks and artillery guns on its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh sector where India has also sent military reinforcements and matched the neighbour’s military moves, as reported by Hindustan Times on May 26.
Chinese troops are also holding positions on their side of the border in north Sikkim where soldiers of the two countries were involved in a nasty brawl on May 9 that left seven Chinese and four Indian soldiers injured, as first reported by Hindustan Times.
“The Chinese troops are camping on their side and have been carrying out patrols. Some air activity has also been observed. We are on our side but there is no face-off,” officials said.
Indian and Chinese soldiers are eyeball-to-eyeball at four locations along the LAC in eastern Ladakh and several rounds of talks between local military commanders have failed to end the standoff that began with a violent confrontation between rival patrols on May 5-6 near Pangong Tso.
China’s state-run media has described the latest tensions as the worst since the 2017 Doklam standoff that lasted 73 days.
The defence minister also referred to the 2017 Doklam face-off in the interview. “It appeared at that time that the situation was very tense. But we did not step back… Ultimately, we were able to resolve the situation,” he said.
Singh said both countries had made it clear that they wanted to resolve the problem. He also underlined that there was no need for the United States to meditate since the two countries already had a mechanism to resolve problems and it had been set in motion.
China has also rejected the US offer to mediate between the two sides to break the stalemate.
Former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retd) said, “It’s a positive that things haven’t escalated in the past few days. But I think we are in for a period of intense negotiation. I see it as a little more complicated than Doklam.”