NEW DELHI: While confirming that the disengagement of troops has begun at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said that ”not an inch of land will be given to China.” The Defence Minister made this remarks in Rajya Sabha on the current situation in eastern Ladakh. 

The Defence Minister hailed the Indian troops and reiterated that the Indian armed forces remain committed to peace and stability at the LAC and New Delhi want an amicable resolution of the India-China border row.

He added that the Indian armed forces dealt with the situation in eastern Ladakh ”effectively and maintained their edge”. “We are committed to maintaining a peaceful situation at the Line of Control. India has always emphasised on maintaining bilateral ties,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in his statement on ‘present situation in Eastern Ladakh’ in Rajya Sabha.   

“Our security forces have proved that they are ready to face any challenge to protect the sovereignty of the country,” the Defence Minister said in Rajya Sabha. The Defence Minister further informed the lawmakers that “at present, many fraction areas have come up near the LAC in Eastern Ladakh.”

China has collected heavy force and arms and ammunition near the LAC and in the nearby areas on their side of the border. Our forces have also adequate and effectively done counter-deployment,” Rajnath Singh said.

Singh further said that ”our sustained talks with China have led to agreement on disengagement on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake. After this agreement, India-China will remove forward deployments in a phased, coordinated manner.”

The Defence Minister, however, assured the Rajya Sabha lawmakers that the Line of Actual Control (LAC) should be accepted by both the sides. ”We have clarified to China that attempts to unilaterally change the status are not acceptable…Not an inch of land will be given.”

“First, both parties must agree on LAC and respect it. Secondly, there shouldn’t be an attempt to change the status unilaterally, by any party. Thirdly, all the compromises should be completely agreed upon by both parties,” the Defence Minister said in the Upper House.

“Since last year, we have maintained a relationship with China on military and diplomatic levels. During the talks, we told China that we want a solution of the issue based on three principles,” Singh said in Rajya Sabha.

Calling for a consensus over issues of national importance, the Defence Minister said, ”No matter which party you belong to, the country stands united when it comes to national security.”  

His statement comes amid reports of disengagement by the India and Chinese troops at the LAC. According to reports, the disengagement by Indian and Chinese frontline troops from the flashpoints at Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh began on Wednesday, with officials claiming that the process is taking place in a step-by-step manner.

Soldiers of both the countries were battling minus 30-degree Celsius temperature in some parts of the disputed India-China border. The two countries had deployed thousands of troopers along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

The disengagement plan on the northern and southern banks of Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh is based on a consensus reached during the ninth round of Corps Commander level meeting held between the two sides on January 24.

After the ninth round of military talks, follow-up meetings between the ground level commanders happened, leading to the initiation of the disengagement process with thinning of troops from Wednesday.

Sources said that after the thinning of troops, removal of tanks and weapons from the southern part of the lake will happen. China’s Defence Ministry also issued a statement on Wednesday, saying that frontline troops at the southern and northern banks of Pangong Lake have started synchronised disengagement. 

The proposals for disengagement include China moving back to Finger 8 and Indian troops pulling back to the Dhan Singh Thapa post between Finger 2 and 3. This will make Finger 4 a ‘no go’ zone for some time for both sides.

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