STATE TIMES NEWSNew Delhi: Firmly articulating the government’s position on the tense Sino-India border row in eastern Ladakh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said China has been very clearly conveyed that any attempt to “unilaterally” change the status quo along the LAC is not at all acceptable, while acknowledging that India is facing a “challenge” in the region.Making a statement in Lok Sabha, Singh said there should be no doubt about the country’s determination to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and asserted that India’s armed forces are ready to deal with “all contingencies” in the high-altitude region.
Leh: From heating appliances and climate appropriate clothing to rations, fuel and tents that protect from the biting cold, all necessary supplies have reached the forward areas for the Army to gear up for the long, freezing winter in Ladakh region, officials asserted amid the tensions on the Line of Actual Control.The Ladakh region witnesses sub-zero temperatures and is mostly cut off from the rest of the country for months during the winters. As tensions between the armies of India and China at the LAC show no sign of ebbing, both sides have significantly ramped up the presence of their troops.Accordingly, India’s Army has been beefing up its stocks of food, ammunition, fuel and more importantly the winter gear.Major General Arvind Kapoor, Chief of Staff of the Fire and Fury Corps — also known as the XIV Corps which has the mandate of securing the frontiers along the China and Pakistan borders from Kargil to Ladakh — said the unit takes pride in its advance winter stocking.Our stocking levels, be it rations, fuel, oils and lubricants, tentage and heating appliances which includes bukhari (heaters) or kero-heaters, or be it ammunition, are in good numbers,” Kapoor told reporters here.Wherever these things need to be supplied, they have already been supplied. We are confident that the system has become so well-oiled that in the coming days, it will give an excellent result, he said.Kapoor said the entire Ladakh region has been connected to two main highways — the Manali-Leh axis and the Jammu-Srinagar-Leh axis.These axes are shut for nearly six months. But in the last few months, we have brought this down to 120 days. In the coming days, the Atal Tunnel will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Darcha-Nimu-Padam link is also ready and in the immediate future, the Ladakh region will get round-the-year connectivity, he said.Fuel also plays a critical role for the armed forces, especially in the Ladakh region where it is used by soldiers in forward areas to keep themselves warm in low temperatures.The corps also operates one of the highest altitude fuel, oil and lubricants depot.We supply fuel both for our vehicles as also for our men, for the bukharis to keep them warm in the bitterly cold weather on the frontline, said Brigadier Rakesh Manocha, in-charge of the logistics. On tentage, officials said the indigenously developed Arctic tents can sustain temperatures up to minus 20 degrees, while the high-altitude tents have the capacity to sustain temperatures anywhere between minus 40 to minus 50 degrees.Both tentages and adequate winter clothing have also been supplied to the forward areas, an official said. The ration too has been stocked adequately, ranging from pre-cooked, packaged and canned items to food grains, they added.Brigadier A S Rathore said, We hold complete requirements of supplies for all troops which are deployed in the Ladakh sector. All warehouses are completely full to the brim.
Referring to the Galwan Valley clashes on June 15, the defence minister said Indian soldiers “inflicted costs including casualties on the Chinese side”, adding the House should have “full confidence” that the armed forces will always rise to the challenge and make the country proud.“I will not hesitate to share with this august House that we are facing a challenge in Ladakh and I urge the House to pass a resolution in support of our armed forces who have been defending our motherland at great heights and most inclement weather conditions,” he said.He said even though the situation this year is very different, both in terms of scale of troops involved and the number of friction points, India remains committed to the peaceful resolution of the current situation.“At the same time, the House can be assured that we remain prepared to deal with all contingencies,” the defence minister said.Singh also referred to his talks with the Chinese defence minister on the sidelines of a multilateral meet in Moscow recently, and said it was made clear to him that though India wants to resolve the row peacefully, there should be no doubt about its determination to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.“I conveyed in clear terms our concerns related to the actions of the Chinese side, including amassing a large number of troops, their aggressive behavior and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo that were in violation of the bilateral agreements,” he said.In the military and diplomatic talks, Singh said, India has maintained three key principles which are:”Both sides should strictly respect and observe the LAC; Neither side should attempt to alter the status quo unilaterally; And all agreements and understandings between the two sides much be fully abided by in their entirety.”He said the Chinese side, on its part, took the position that the situation should be handled in a responsible manner and ensure peace and tranquility as per bilateral agreements and protocol.The defence minister said amassing of the troops by China and violent conduct of Chinese military were in violation of all mutually agreed norms and pacts.“A key element of both the 1993 and the 1996 Agreements is that the two sides will keep their military forces in the areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to a minimum level,” he added.Singh also talked about the five-point agreement reached between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on September 10 and said:”if implemented sincerely and faithfully by the Chinese side, it could lead to complete disengagement and restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas.”On Galwan Valley clashes, he also said the Chinese side “created” a violent face off and “our brave soldiers laid down their lives and also inflicted costs including casualties on the Chinese side.”Twenty Indian Army personnel were martyred in the clashes which have significantly escalated the tensions between the two countries.“I want to tell you that I have felt their indomitable courage, gallant and valor. As you are aware that Col Santosh Babu, along with his 19 brave soldiers, made the supreme sacrifice in the cause of defending the territorial integrity of India,” he said.The Chinese side too suffered casualties, but it is yet to give out the details.“The conduct of our armed forces throughout these incidents shows that while they maintained ‘Sayyam’ (self-control) in the face of provocative actions, they also equally displayed ‘Shaurya’ (courage) when required to protect the territorial integrity of India,” he said.The defence minister said the Chinese side had taken action to “hinder” the normal, traditional patrolling pattern of Indian troops in the Galwan Valley area which resulted in the face-off.“Even as this situation was being addressed by the Ground Commanders as per the provisions of our bilateral agreements and protocol, in mid-May the Chinese side made several attempts to transgress the LAC in other parts of the Western Sector,” he said.This included Kongka La, Gogra and North Bank of Pangong Lake and that the attempts were detected early and consequently responded to appropriately by the armed forces.“I would like the House to join me in recognizing the courage and valour of our soldiers, who undergo immense hardship in the most difficult conditions to keep us all safe and secure,” Singh said.The defence minister said India made it clear to the Chinese side through diplomatic and military channels that attempting to unilaterally alter the status quo was unacceptable.He also said that China continues to be in “illegal occupation” of approximately 38,000 sq. kms in the Union Territory of Ladakh.
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