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China intends to keep 'alive' boundary issue: Indian Army Chief


NEW DELHI (PTI): Indian Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande on Monday said China's intention has been to keep "alive" the boundary question with India though it remains the "basic" issue between the two countries even as he asserted that the Army's aim was to restore the status quo ante prior to April 2020 in eastern Ladakh.

Gen Pande also said that Indian troops are adequately deployed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to deal with any situation and that guidance has been given to them to "remain firm and resolute" in their tasks.

While referring to the eastern Ladakh border standoff, the Army Chief said the Indian Army's aim is to re-establish the "trust and tranquillity" between the two sides but asserted that "it cannot be a one-way affair."

"The basic issue remains the resolution of the border. What we see is that China's intent has been to keep the boundary issue alive," he said about the overall boundary question between the two countries.

"What we need as a country is a 'whole of nation' approach and in the military domain, this is to prevent and counter any attempt to alter the status quo at the LAC," he told a select group of journalists.

The comments by Gen Pande, who took charge as the Army Chief on April 30, came as the lingering border standoff in eastern Ladakh completed two years on May 4.

"We have a robust posture and adequate forces available to deal with any situation," he said, while listing the Army's decision to "rebalance" and "reorient" along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the last two years.

"Our troops continue to hold important positions along the LAC...As far as the situation is concerned, guidance given to the troops is to remain firm and resolute in the task they are undertaking and prevent attempts to change the status quo," Gen Pande said.

He also referred to military and diplomatic talks between India and China to resolve the eastern Ladakh standoff.

Gen Pande said the diplomatic and military talks between the two sides resulted in the disengagement of troops in the north and south banks of Pangong Tso, Gogra and Patrolling Point 14 (Galwan), adding, "we hope to find resolution through dialogue in remaining areas."

"Our aim is to restore status quo ante prior to April 2020," he said.

The eastern Ladakh faceoff began on May 4-5 in 2020. India has been insisting on the restoration of the status quo ante prior to the standoff.

"We are engaging the adversary through military and diplomatic dialogue. Talks have led to disengagement in some areas. We will continue to engage China in talks for resolving the remaining areas," the Army Chief said.

The Army Chief said his focus has been to increase the use of technology for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in border areas besides ensuring adequate infrastructure and logistics.

India and China have held 15 rounds of military talks so far to resolve the eastern Ladakh row. As a result of the talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process last year on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area.

India has been consistently maintaining that peace and tranquillity along the LAC were key for the overall development of bilateral ties.

The eastern Ladakh border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas.

Both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.

Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the sensitive sector.

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