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The specific aim of Sunday's talks, held near Chushul-Moldo border point in eastern Ladakh on territory that the Chinese claim, was to arrive at a disengagement in Hot Springs, a key flash point between the two. Photo: File image for representation

China unilaterally trying to change status quo: MEA on Ladakh stand-off

India on Tuesday (June 16) said the violent face-off between the armies of India and China in eastern Ladakh was the result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo in the region.

India on Tuesday (June 16) said the violent face-off between the armies of India and China in eastern Ladakh was the result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo in the region.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said both sides suffered casualties that could have been avoided had the agreement arrived at earlier at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side.

“Given its responsible approach to border management, India is very clear that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the LAC. We expect the same of the Chinese side,” MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

Related news: Galwan Valley face-off: Indian, Chinese officials meet to defuse situation

An Indian Army colonel and two soldiers were killed during a violent clash with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on Monday night, the first such incident involving fatalities after a gap of 45 years.

“We remain firmly convinced of the need for the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas and the resolution of differences through dialogue,” Srivastava said.

“At the same time, we are also strongly committed to ensuring India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added.

Meanwhile, China’s official media quoted the Chinese military as claiming that it “always” owned sovereignty over the Galwan Valley region and alleged that “provocative attacks launched by the Indian troops resulted in “severe clashes and casualties.”

In its first reaction on Monday’s clashes between the two militaries at the Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh, a statement quoted by the Chinese media quoting the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Western Theatre Command Spokesperson Colonel Zhang Shuili said, “China always owns sovereignty over the Galwan Valley region.”

Related news: China lodges protest with India over violent face-off in Galwan Valley

There was no immediate reaction from the Indian side to the PLA statement quoted to Col. Shuili.

“The Indian troops have broken their promises and again crossed the line of actual control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley region on Monday evening and purposely launched provocative attacks, leading to severe clashes and casualties,” Zhang claimed.

The extent of casualties on the Chinese side is not immediately clear. While acknowledging severe clashes and casualties, the PLA statement quoted by the Global Times as well as China Daily was silent on the casualties on the Chinese side.

“China always owns sovereignty over the Galwan Valley region,” the PLA statement claimed.

“The Indian border defence troops are inconsistent with their words and seriously violated the agreements both countries have reached, the consensus made during the army commander-level talks and harmed the relations of the two militaries and the feelings of the two countries peoples, it said.

“India should stop all provocative actions, meet the Chinese side halfway and come back to the right path of solving disputes through talks,” Zhang said.

The Indian and Chinese armies are engaged in the standoff in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh.

A sizeable number of Chinese Army personnel even transgressed into the Indian side of the de-facto border in several areas including Pangong Tso.

The Indian Army has been fiercely objecting to the transgressions, and demanded their immediate withdrawal for restoration of peace and tranquillity in the area. Both sides held a series of talks in the last few days to resolve the border row.

Related news: Politicians call for strong response from Centre on Galwan Valley face-off

While the Chinese officials were silent on the casualties suffered by the PLA troops, Hu Xijin, editor of the ruling Communist Party-run Global Times tabloid tweeted to say there are casualties on Chinese side too.

“Chinese and Indian military personnel broke out in a severe physical conflict in the Galwan Valley. The Indian side stated that three people died in the Indian Army. According to my urgent knowledge of people familiar with the situation, there are also casualties on our side,” she said.

However, the Global Times later tweeted that the “official Global Times accounts have NEVER reported the exact casualties on the Chinese side. The Global Times CANNOT confirm the number at the moment.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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