High resolution satellite images accessed by news channel NDTV show the presence of Chinese structures on both sides of the Line of Actual Control in the Galwan river valley.
The development comes a day after India and China agreed to start the process of disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
The new images, however, appear to show possible defensive Chinese positions at the site. The new images also show shelters or accommodation having been constructed along the rock-face leading up the LAC. These were absent earlier.
“There are clear signs of an incursion around Patrol Point 14. These appear to be defensive formations by the Chinese on our side of the Line of Actual Control,” says Major General Ramesh Padhi (retd.), one of India’s foremost cartographers who retired as Additional Surveyor General of India.
“The images show a clear movement of heavy vehicles which indicates that they have an intention to stay deployed in the area,” he said.
As talks between India and China are ongoing, officials from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said China had demanded a withdrawal of Indian personnel and facilities from Galwan Valley at the June 6 Corps Commander talks.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Defence Ministry on Wednesday accused India of breaking the June 6 agreement, and claimed India had agreed to not patrol in the valley or build facilities there, reported The Hindu.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: “It is the Indian side that went against the bilateral agreement. The Indian side at first agreed to withdraw personnel from Galwan Valley and so it did, and it dismantled its facilities as requested by the Chinese side. During the first Commander meeting on June 6, the Indian side committed to no trespassing of the Galwan Valley for patrolling and for building. The two sides agreed to set up observatory posts at the two sides of the Galwan river estuary, but the Indian side went against this agreement and asked China to dismantle China’s posts, and also it crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC)”, which led to the clash.
This came after the military commanders of India and China had reportedly arrived at a consensus on ‘outstanding issues’ and have agreed to take measures to cool down the situation, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday.
However, tensions are high between India and China as the Government of India has given powers to the armed forces to make emergency procurements to stock up its war reserves amid tension building up on the LAC.
Air Force assets, including fighters, have been moved up to forward locations.
Navy has also been given the go-ahead to deploy its assets near the Malacca Strait and, if needed, anywhere else in the Indo-Pacific to counter Chinese action
Economic Times had reported that the government did not want to leave anything to chance at this stage, especially after the violence in Galwan which left atleast 20 Indian soldiers dead.
Prime Minster of India Narendra Modi has said that the ‘sacrifices of soldiers’ along the border with China will not go in vain. India wants peace but is capable of giving befitting reply, if instigated, he said.
The external affairs ministry has said the escalation in Galwan Valley of Ladakh happened “as a result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there”.
China has accused India of crossing the border and attacking Chinese personnel, and called on India to “not take unilateral actions or stir up trouble.”
The armies of India and China are locked in a tense standoff at three points in eastern Ladakh, wherein China has reportedly occupied 60 sq. kilometres of territory claimed by India.
A Chinese diplomat reacting to the standoff in Ladakh has said that the move is linked to the Indian government’s unilateral decision to scrap Article 370 in August last year.
The move changed the laws that prohibited Indians from buying land in Kashmir, and made the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir defunct, triggering fears of demographic change in the Muslim majority region of Kashmir.
When India scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5 last year, the Chinese foreign ministry had issued two statements criticising the development, including one that focused on the splitting of the state into union territories.
This statement, while urging India to be “cautious” on the border issue and to avoid “actions that further complicate the border issue”, said: “China has always opposed India’s inclusion of Chinese territory in India’s administrative jurisdiction in the western part of the Sino-Indian border.” This was a reference to the area in Ladakh that New Delhi claims but is controlled by Beijing.
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