India says China’s bridge on Pangong Lake located in areas under ‘illegal occupation’

The bridge is located south of a People’s Liberation Army position on the north bank of Pangong Lake and is being built at a spot where the two banks of the lake are about 500 metres apart. Once completed, the bridge will cut the distance between Chinese troop positions on the north bank to a key PLA base at Rutog by around 150 km.
High-resolution satellite imagery of the bridge from US space technology company Maxar, which emerged last month, showed the structure is eight metres wide and more than 400 metres long. (HT FILE PHOTO.)
High-resolution satellite imagery of the bridge from US space technology company Maxar, which emerged last month, showed the structure is eight metres wide and more than 400 metres long. (HT FILE PHOTO.)
Updated on Feb 04, 2022 10:59 PM IST
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India on Friday said the bridge built by China on Pangong Lake is located in areas under the “illegal occupation” of the Chinese side since 1962, and New Delhi expects other nations to respect the country’s territorial integrity.

The government’s position on the bridge linking the north and south banks of the strategic lake in Ladakh sector was outlined by minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan in a written reply in Lok Sabha to questions from several MPs.

High-resolution satellite imagery of the bridge from US space technology company Maxar, which emerged last month, showed the structure is eight metres wide and more than 400 metres long. The imagery also showed that Chinese workers are using a heavy crane to place concrete slabs between pillars before the laying of tarmac.

“This bridge is being constructed in areas that have continued to be under the illegal occupation of China since 1962,” said Muraleedharan.

“Government of India has never accepted this illegal occupation. Government has made it clear on several occasions that the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are an integral part of India and we expect other countries to respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

The bridge is located south of a People’s Liberation Army position on the north bank of Pangong Lake and is being built at a spot where the two banks of the lake are about 500 metres apart. Once completed, the bridge will cut the distance between Chinese troop positions on the north bank to a key PLA base at Rutog by around 150 km.

On January 6, the external affairs ministry too accused the Chinese side of building the bridge in an area it has illegally occupied for 60 years. External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at the time that the government has been taking “all necessary steps to ensure that our security interests are fully protected”.

Muraleedharan said in a written reply to another question in Lok Sabha that China “continues to be in illegal occupation of approximately 38,000 sq km of Indian territory in the Union Territory of Ladakh for the last six decades”.

Under the “so-called China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement signed in 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq km of Indian territory in Shaksgam Valley from areas illegally occupied by Pakistan in Union Territory of Ladakh to China”, he said.

The Indian government has “never recognised” the China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement and has “consistently maintained that it is illegal and invalid”. He added: “The fact that the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are an integral and inalienable part of India has been clearly conveyed to Pakistani and Chinese authorities several times.”

India and China have currently amassed some 50,000 troops each along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh sector following the start of a standoff in May 2020. After several rounds of diplomatic and military talks, frontline troops were withdrawn from the banks of Pangong Lake and at Gogra last year.

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Thursday, June 30, 2022