The defence minister said efforts are on to resolve the border row in eastern Ladakh

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the current situation along the disputed boundary between India and China in eastern Ladakh was “a bit different” from normal transgressions of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by the soldiers of the two nations.

He, however, added that efforts were on to resolve the situation, with military officials and diplomats of India and China being in touch.

The Defence Minister told a news-channel that since the two sides had differences in perception about the alignment of the LAC; the Indian and Chinese soldiers had been transgressing into each other’s side while patrolling along the disputed boundary. “This time however the situation is a bit different, but our talks are on with China,” he said, expressing hope that the situation would be resolved soon.

“We want to resolve the crisis through dialogue. Discussions are on at the military and diplomatic level. China also expressed its desire to resolve it,” the Defence Minister said in an interview to another TV channel.

In response to a question on the United States President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate between India and China, Singh said that he had conveyed to American Secretary of Defence Mark Esper that India and China had existing mechanisms to resolve any situation that might arise along the disputed boundary between the two nations.

Singh and Esper spoke to each other over the phone on Friday.

This is the first time a minister of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government made a statement on the tension between India and China along the LAC on the north bank of the Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh.

His statement came after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi demanded that the Government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre must let people of the country know what was happening along the disputed boundary between India and China.

“The nation should be rest assured that we will not allow its dignity to be hurt under any circumstances,” the Defence Minister said. 

Though the LAC at present separates India and China in the absence of a mutually agreed boundary, differences in perceptions about the alignment of the line are often blamed for its transgressions and consequent tension and stand-offs.

In the November 1996 Agreement on the CBMs in the border areas, India and China recognised the differences in perception over the LAC and sought to speed up exchange of maps for clarification and confirmation of its alignment. Beijing, however, subsequently took it off the table in its engagements with New Delhi, ostensibly out of apprehensions that New Delhi might insist on turning the LAC, if clarified and confirmed, into de jure boundary.

The tension along the disputed boundary between India and China started on May 5 when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) personnel attacked Indian Army soldiers with sticks and stones in an area perceived in New Delhi to be well within the LAC’s Indian side. They also demolished on May 6 some makeshift structures built by Indian Army soldiers.

The Chinese PLA followed up by building a bunker in order to restrict the access to an area where Indian Army soldiers regularly patrolled. The PLA later deployed nearly 5000 soldiers in a large camp set up recently at Galwan Valley within the territory claimed by China – obviously to support the smaller number of troops, who transgressed the LAC in several locations and entered into the areas claimed by India. The Indian Army also rushed additional troops “in adequate numbers” in response to the deployment by the Chinese PLA. The build-ups by both sides escalated tension along the LAC and the military officials and diplomats of both sides are now holding discussions to defuse the situation.