New Delhi, January 4
Photographs of Indian Army troops holding a large Tricolour in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley as part of New Year celebrations were released on Tuesday by sources in the security establishment, in a tit-for-tat response to a video by the Chinese state media purportedly showing PLA soldiers unfurling their national flag in the region three days back.
Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, a lawmaker from Arunachal Pradesh that shares border with China, also posted on Twitter three photos with a caption “brave Indian Army soldiers in Galwan Valley on the occasion of #NewYear2022”.
On January 1, China’s state media played up the video purportedly showing Chinese PLA soldiers sending New Year greetings to the Chinese people from Galwan Valley while resolving to “never yield an inch of land.”
The sources in the Indian security establishment said the site of the Chinese soldiers celebrating the New Year is in a depth area on their side near the Galwan Valley region and that it is not at all close to the buffer zone created in the region after the deadly clash that had taken place on June 15, 2020.
The video shared by the Chinese media triggered reactions in India with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “break the silence” over Chinese “incursions” in the Galwan region of eastern Ladakh.
The Opposition party has been targeting the Modi Government over its handling of Chinese incursions in eastern Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.
The ties between India and China nosedived significantly following the fierce clash in the Galwan Valley that marked the most serious military conflicts between the two countries in decades.
In one of the photos, released by the sources in the Indian security establishment as part of the information warfare, around 30 Indian soldiers armed with Sig Sauer-716 assault rifles were seen with the National Flag.
Another photo showed the group with four of them holding the flag and another Tricolour flying high on a flagpole adjacent to a temporary observation post. A flag of the Dogra regiment of the Indian Army is also seen in the photo.
The sources said the photographs were of January 1 in the Galwan Valley.
The Indian and Chinese troops exchanged sweets and greetings at 10 border points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) including in eastern Ladakh and North Sikkim on January 1, 2022, which was seen as a warm gesture in the midst of the lingering row in eastern Ladakh.
In contrast to the Indian security establishment releasing photographs of the exchange of sweets and greetings on the New Year, China chose to play up the purported video.
The attempt by the Chinese state media also came two days after China renamed some places in Arunachal Pradesh that drew a strong response from India.
In its reaction, India asserted that Arunachal Pradesh has “always been” and will “always be” an integral part of India and that assigning “invented” names does not alter this fact.
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.
As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process last year in the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area.
Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the sensitive sector.
The 13th round of Corps Commander-level military talks in October ended in a stalemate with the Indian Army saying that the “constructive suggestions” made by it were not agreeable to the Chinese side.
In their virtual diplomatic talks on November 18, India and China agreed to hold the 14th round of military talks at an early date to achieve the objective of complete disengagement in remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh.
It is learnt that the Chinese side is yet to respond to the next round of military talks.
The defence ministry on Friday said it held several rounds of military talks with the Chinese side to deescalate the situation in eastern Ladakh without compromising on its stand of ‘complete disengagement and immediate restoration of status quo ante.
India has been insisting on returning to the status quo that existed before the face-off took place in early May 2020. PTI
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