NEW DELHI: In a major snub to China, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday said that the Union Territories of Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir and the north-eastern state Arunachal Pradesh have been, are and would always remain an ”integral part of India.”

The MEA also said that ”China has no locus standi to comment on India’s internal matters,”days after Beijing remarked that it “does not recognise the UT of Ladakh, illegally set up by India.”

“The union territories of Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir have been, are and would remain an integral part of India. China has no locus standi to comment on India’s internal matters: Anurag Srivastava, Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), said while addressing a press conference in the national capital.

Rejecting China’s repeated claim on Arunachal Pradesh, the MEA official said, “Arunachal Pradesh is also an integral part of India, this fact has also been clearly conveyed to the Chinese side on several occasions, including at the highest level.”

“We hope countries will not comment on India’s internal matters as much as they expect the same from others,” the MEA spokesperson said.

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Shifting his focus to Pakistan, Anurag Srivastava also categorically denied the claim made by Pakistan PM’s National Security Advisor that India sent a message with desire for talks.

The remarks from the External Affairs Ministry came a day after China accused India of ”ramping up infrastructure development along the border causing tension between two countries.”

Responding to it, the MEA spokesperson said, “The Government of India is focused on creating infrastructure for improving livelihood, economic welfare of people. Govt gives specific attention to development of border areas for economic development & to meet India’s security, strategic requirements.”

China, which refuses to recognize Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, has strongly objected to the bridges that India has built within its territory. Reacting to the infrastructure building activity by India, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian reportedly said that it was “the root cause for tension between the two sides.”

Replying to a question, Zhao Lijian said, “First, I want to make it clear, China doesn’t recognize Ladakh Union Territory, illegally established by India and also Arunachal Pradesh. China stands against the development of infrastructure facilities aimed at military contention along the border area. Based on the two sides’ consensus, neither should take action that might escalate the situation. That could also undermine efforts to ease the situation.”

Zhao Lijian added, “For some time, the Indian side has been ramping up infrastructure development along the border and stepping up military deployment, that is the root cause of the tension between the two sides. China asks the Indian side to earnestly implement the consensus between the two sides and refrain from taking actions that might escalate the situation and take concrete measures to safeguard peace and tranquillity along the border.”

On Monday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh laid the foundation stone for Nechiphu Tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh. The bridges are of strategic importance and provide connectivity to remote areas. Singh had congratulated DG and all ranks of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for their achievements and said that the dedication of 44 bridges in one go in itself was a record.

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