India's armed forces are ready for any eventuality, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat told the Parliament's Standing Committee on Defence today, even as tensions between India and China remain high following "provocative behaviour of Chinese frontline troops" along the LAC - Line of Actual Control, which serves as the de factor border between the two countries..
The meeting was attended - for the first time in this Lok Sabha - by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, who has been a vocal critic of the government over its handling of the China border row.
General Rawat told the committee that the armed forces had taken adequate steps and measures to thwart any attempt by China to further change or alter the status quo along the LAC.
Defences forces are alert and will give a befitting reply to the Chinese in case of any misadventure that takes place along the border, the general further said.
General Rawat's assertion - he made similar comments earlier this month at the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum - comes a day after Foreign Minister S Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Russia on Thursday to defuse tension after a spike in hostilities along the border.
The government said Mr Jaishankar, among other issues, highlighted India's "strong concern at the massing of Chinese troops, with equipment, along the LAC".
After that meeting a joint statement said India and China agreed to de-escalate border tensions and take steps to restore "peace and tranquillity". Both sides, the statement added, also agreed the situation was not in their best interests and that troops should quickly disengage and ease tensions.
Wang further said he backed enhanced dialogue between troops to resolve "specific issues".
The immediate task, "to prevent any untoward incident in the future", is "to ensure a comprehensive disengagement of troops in all the friction areas," India told China, sources said.
Mr Gandhi, meanwhile, who has accused the government of hiding Chinese occupation of Indian territory and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "surrendering" to Chinese aggression, tweeted this evening.
"The only "talk" to have with China is about restoration of 'Status Quo Ante' as of March 2020 (before the border crisis erupted). Prime Minister and Government of India refuse to take responsibility for pushing China out of our land. All other "talk" is worthless," he declared.
The only “talk” to have with China is about restoration of ‘Status Quo Ante' as of March 2020.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 11, 2020
PM & GOI refuse to take responsibility for pushing China out of our land.
All other “talk” is worthless.
"The Chinese have taken our land. When exactly is the government of India planning to get it back? Or is that also going to be left to an 'Act of God'?" Mr Gandhi added.
The Chinese have taken our land.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 11, 2020
When exactly is GOI planning to get it back?
Or is that also going to be left to an 'Act of God'?
In a fresh flare-up earlier this week, China accused India of crossing the LAC - along the south bank of the Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh - and firing warning shots in provocative actions.
India said Chinese forces had tried to close in on its positions and fired shots in the air. The Army asserted that Indian soldiers did not cross the LAC or resort to any aggressive means, including firing.
China "has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres, while engagement at military, diplomatic and political level is in progress," said India.
The Indian Army and China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) have been locked in a stand-off along the LAC in eastern Ladakh since early May. The following month 20 Indian soldiers died for their nation in a violent attack by Chinese forces in the Galwan region of eastern Ladakh.