No infiltration along Sino-Indian border in last 6 months: Govt tells Rajya Sabha

NEW DELHI: Almost four months into a tense military standoff with China, different arms of the Indian government seem to be responding in different voices to questions regarding China.

On Wednesday, the home ministry in a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha said “there has been no infiltration along the Sino-Indian border in the last six months.”

The ministry also said that 594 attempts of infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani militants had been reported in the last three years, of which 312 were successful.

Generally, “infiltration” is used to describe action by Pakistan to push in terrorists into India across the Line of Control or LOC.

And for issues at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – as the India-China border is commonly referred to — the Indian officials have used the words “transgression” or “intrusion” ie Chinese troops entering into India and then returning either immediately or after some time.

“No infiltration has been reported along Indo-China border during last six months,” Union Minister of State for Home Nityanad Rai said in a written response to a question on Wednesday – raising eye brows. Answering another question, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said 582 terrorists were killed in Jammu and Kashmir by security forces in last three years, while 46 terrorists were arrested during the period.

In a statement to parliament on Tuesday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh pointed out that “there is no commonly delineated Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the border areas between India and China and there is no common perception of the entire LAC.”

Referring to the present situation of tensions along the border, Singh said that “in mid-May the Chinese side made several attempts to transgress the LAC in other parts of the Western Sector. This included Kongka La, Gogra and North Bank of Pangong Lake. These attempts were detected early and consequently responded to appropriately by our armed forces.”

Meanwhile in response to a question in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, the Indian foreign ministry replied in the negative when asked if India’s “bilateral relations with neighbouring countries like Nepal, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afganistan and Myanmar” had deteriorated recently.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs V Muraleedharan who responded to the questions also said that the Indian government “accords the highest priority to India’s relations with our neighbouring countries. India is an active political and economic partner of its neighbours and is involved in various projects, including development projects with these countries. India also has extensive education, culture, trade and investment linkages with neighbouring countries. India’s relations with other countries stand on their own footing and are independent of the relations of those countries with third countries.”

Responding to another question on India-China relations Muraleedharan said that “from April-May this year, there has been an enhanced deployment of troops and armaments by the Chinese side in the border areas and along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)” in Ladakh.

“Since mid-May the Chinese side attempted to transgress the LAC in several areas of the Western Sector of the India-China border area,” he said adding that these attempts were appropriately responded to.

The response detailed the attempts at dialogue by India to sort out the matter at the military, diplomatic levels and ministerial levels including meetings that Rajnath Singh had with his counterpart Wei Fenghe in Moscow on 4 September and another by Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar with his counterpart Wang Yi also in Moscow on 10 September.

Singh “conveyed that the two sides should resolve the ongoing situation and outstanding issues in the border areas peacefully through dialogue,” Muraleedharan said.

Jaishankar had “in-depth discussions” with his counterpart Wang and reached an agreement on five points that included that “the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side.”

The two ministers also “agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions,” Muraleedharan said.

India and China also concurred on the need to “avoid any action that could escalate matters” and that as the “situation eases, the two sides should expedite work to conclude new Confidence Building Measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquility in the border areas.”

“Accordingly, it is expected that the two sides will continue to have meetings of military and diplomatic officials to implement the agreements reached between the two Foreign Ministers and ensure full restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas,” Muraleedharan added.

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