India-China Standoff: A Brigade Commander level flag meeting is in progress at Chushul. (File)
- China tried to "change status quo" on Saturday night, government said
- This took place on south bank of the Pangong Tso, according to sources
- Brigade Commander-level meet is on to defuse tension, government said
Chinese troops "carried out provocative military movements" near Pangong Tso lake on Saturday night but were blocked by Indian soldiers who were fully prepared, the government said on Monday. The Chinese tried to intrude into the south bank of the Pangong Tso, which is of huge significance as it is a new area. Brigade Commander-level officers were in talks at Chushul to defuse tension, the government said. The Ladakh-Srinagar highway has been closed to civilian traffic, reportedly for troop movement. Indian forces remain in large numbers at the latest site of escalation, ready to respond. Taking an aggressive stance, China said its military "is taking necessary countermeasures".
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The incidents took place overnight between August 29 and 30, according to a statement by the Army. Chinese soldiers came "in large numbers" on the hillside and along the south bank of the Pangong Lake, said sources, and the intent was to unilaterally occupy areas.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops "violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo," said the statement.
"Indian troops preempted this PLA activity on the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake, undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground," it said, adding that the army is committed to maintaining peace and tranquility through dialogue, "but is also equally determined to protect its territorial integrity".
Sources said there were no physical skirmishes; the Army was aware of the Chinese move and established themselves in a move to block the Chinese advance, they said.
A Chinese military spokesperson, Colonel Zhang Shuili, claimed in a statement that it was India that had violated China's sovereignty. "The Chinese military is taking necessary countermeasures and will pay close attention to developments and resolutely safeguard China's territorial sovereignty and peace and stability in border areas," said the spokesperson.
A deadlock over parts of Ladakh where the Chinese army set up camp earlier this year has not been resolved despite five rounds of talks between the militaries of both nations.
A week ago, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat had said India has "military options" to deal with China if the military and diplomatic level talks did not produce results.
The stand-off between India and China which started in April-May peaked on June 15 when 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action at Galwan Valley. Some 40 Chinese soldiers were killed or injured in the clash, though Beijing never confirmed figures.
The two nations had agreed on disengagement since but the withdrawal of troops is still not complete.
Chinese soldiers continue to occupy positions in depth on slopes along Finger 5 and on slopes extending towards Finger 8, on the north bank of the Pangong Lake, satellite pictures showed. India believes the Line of Actual Control lies at Finger 8, near Fort Khurnak, a historic site in the area. China believes the LAC is at Finger 4 and has prevented Indian soldiers from patrolling beyond the point since April.