After speaking on the India-China disengagement process in the Rajya Sabha, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh addressed the Lok Sabha later on Thursday, 11 February, on the 'Present Situation in eastern Ladakh', saying, “I want to assure this House that in these talks (between India and China) we have not conceded anything.”
“The agreement that we have been able to reach with the Chinese side for disengagement in Pangong lake area envisages that both sides will cease their forward deployments in a phased, coordinated and verified manner,” Singh was quoted as saying in the Lower House.
“Chinese side will keep its troop presence in the north bank area to east of Finger 8. Indian troops will be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3. Similar action would be taken in the south bank area by both sides.”Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, as quoted by ANI
Lauds Valour and Courage of Armed Forces
“I want to assure this House that in these talks we have not conceded anything,” he said, going on to point out that some outstanding issues still exist as far as deployment and patrolling at some other points along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh are concerned.
These issues, he said, will be the focus of further discussions with the Chinese side.
“We’ve agreed that both sides should achieve complete disengagement at the earliest and abide fully by the bilateral agreements and protocols. By now, the Chinese side is also fully aware of our resolve.”Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, as quoted by ANI
Lauding the valour and courage of the armed forces on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso, the Union minister went on to say, "Many strategic points were identified and our troops positioned themselves at locations very important from our point of view... It's because of this bravery of our armed forces in harsh adverse climatic conditions that we maintained the edge. Our armed forces proved yet again that territorial integrity of our country remains safe in their hands, and their grit and determination are unwavering."
What Rajnath Singh Said in Rajya Sabha
In his address in the Upper House earlier on Thursday, Rajnath Singh had said the two countries have begun the disengagement process at the Pangong Lake.
The confirmation from Singh came after China’s Global Times on Wednesday reported that disengagement has begun at the northern and southern shores of the lake after the two countries reached agreements in the ninth round of the commander-level talks.
“Our sustained talks with China have led to agreement on disengagement on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake,” Singh told the House.
Singh added that constructions done on both sides since April 2020 will be dismantled and the patrolling at the north bank by both sides will be suspended indefinitely.
“Constructions by both sides since April 2020 on the North and South banks of the Pangong lake will also be dismantled. It was also decided that all activities at the north bank, including patrolling, will be suspended indefinitely. The patrolling shall resume only when military and political-level talks resume and an agreement is reached upon,” he said.
The announcement of disengagement was first made by China’s Global Times quoting the Chinese Ministry of National Defense on Wednesday. India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is yet to issue an official statement on the matter.
‘Have Told China It Must Respect the LAC’
While emphasising on maintaining bilateral ties even during the standoff, Singh said that India has conveyed to China that any kind of adverse situation at the LAC will affect the ties.
“Since last year, we have maintained relationships with China on military and diplomatic levels. During the talks, we told China that we want a solution of the issues based on three principles. First, both parties must agree on the LAC and respect it. Secondly, there should not be an attempt to change the status quo unilaterally by either country. Thirdly, all the compromises should be completely agreed upon by both the parties,” Singh told the House.
Saying that the Government of India is committed to maintaining a peaceful situation at the LAC, Singh said, “India is of the opinion that the forward deployments that took place in 2020 and the proximity of the two armies at these points must be normalised, and both sides must return to their earlier agreed-upon positions.”
Remembering the martyrs who lost their lives during the Galwan Valley clash last year, Singh said that the sacrifice of the martyrs will be not be forgotten.
“Our security forces have proved that they are ready to face any challenge to protect the sovereignty of the country,” Singh said, adding that the country must stand united when it comes to national security irrespective of which party they belong to.
The development on Pangong Tso comes amid a months-long standoff between the two militaries at the LAC. A violent face-off last year between the two sides at the Galwan Valley led to the martyrdom of 20 Indian soldiers.
The ninth Corps Commander-level talks between the two countries took place on 25 January at the Moldo meeting point.
The Indian delegation was led by Lieutenant General PGK Menon, the Corps Commander of Leh-based HQ 14 Corps, as India sought complete disengagement and withdrawing of forces from the disputed areas. A Ministry of External Affairs representative was also part of the dialogue.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI.)