Accusations of unprovoked firing on LAC by China, India

In 1996, both the nations had inked a deal stating ‘neither shall open fire within 2 km of the LAC.

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Tension prevails on Indo-China border as both the countries on Tuesday alleged each other with unprovoked firing on the disputed border. This not only violated a no-fire deal signed in 1996 but also adds to rising tension in the region.

According to an SCMP report, PLA Western Theatre Command spokesman Shuili Zhang alleged that Indian soldiers crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at the Pangong Tso outpost by violating an earlier agreement.

Later, denying that its jawans fired shots, the Indian defence ministry alleged their Chinese counterparts with opening fire in the clash on Monday. “It was the PLA troops who were attempting to close in with one of our forward positions along the LAC,” said a statement issued by the ministry.

The statement issued by the Chinese command stated that Chinese soldiers were “forced to take an emergency response to stabilise the situation at the scene” – stopping short of elaborating what it was. It asked India to halt “dangerous action” at once and retreat.

Zhang said Indian troops had fired an unspecified number of shots when Chinese troops arrived at the scene. “The action of the Indian side has seriously violated the bilateral agreement and escalated the tension in the region. It is a serious military provocation.”

Countering the allegations by the PLA, the Indian side said Chinese soldiers fired “a few rounds in the air” to intimidate Indian jawans. It flayed China’s “aggressive manoeuvres”.

“Despite the grave provocation, our troops exercised great restraint and behaved in a mature and responsible manner,” said the Indian ministry. However, it hastened to add that India respected peace. However, it would protect its national integrity “at all costs”.

Zhang also underlined their determination to defend China’s sovereignty. He demanded discipline of India’s frontline troops. He sought a probe into the firing. In 1996, both the nations had inked a deal stating ‘neither shall open fire within 2 km of the LAC.

Quoting Indian media, the SCMP report said, the firing was first such incident since a clash in 1975, killing four Indian jawans. This is the second such clash in the past seven days after a meet held by the Chinese and Indian defence ministers in Moscow last week.

The two sides have been clashing frequently in the past some months after four decades. In June, 20 Indian soldiers were killed while an unknown number died on the Chinese side. However, firearms were not used in this fight. In Moscow yesterday, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that the stand-off in eastern Ladakh – the region around the Pangong Tso lake – was “very serious”. He sought “deep conversations between the two sides at the political level,” said the SCMP report quoting The Hindu.

Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe and Jaishankar met separately at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Moscow. Fenghe, during the meeting, said the prevailing tension along the LAC “rests entirely with the Indian side” and China would protect “every inch of territory,” said Xinhua.

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, in a press statement, said the gathering of Chinese soldiers was “aggressive behaviour” and “attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo” violating bilateral deals. He said it did not adhere to the understandings reached by the special representatives from both sides.

He, however, said that he had “frank and in-depth discussions” with Fenghe and they were in favour of easing tensions.