Indian Army chief General MM Naravane asserted India has “not lost out on any
territory” in the months-long military standoff with China in eastern Ladakh,
adding that “we are where we were” after the worst border conflict between the
two nuclear-armed neighbours in decades, news agency ANI reported on Tuesday.
“I think that firstly we have not lost out on any territory, we are where we
were before this whole thing started. As a result of this agreement, which has
been reached on the principle of mutual and equal security, I think that’s how
we should look at this whole disengagement process that it serves the interest
of both the countries to have a very stable LAC (Line of Actual Control), with
less chances of any confrontation taking place. That should be the larger
viewpoint,” Naravane told news agency ANI.
“Not an inch has been lost, that’s right,” General Naravane further said.
Since the beginning of the crisis, India has maintained that no land has been
conceded to China, a point reiterated by defence minister Rajnath Singh while
outlining the disengagement plan in Parliament last month. The opposition,
especially Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, has frequently attacked the Centre
for “letting China acquire Indian territory.”
Talking about the disengagement plan, the army chief said that after the ninth
round of Corps Commander level talks, an agreement was reached to move away
from the friction areas in a phased manner. “Tenth February onwards, the
disengagement started and went as per plan. From the north and south banks of
the Pangong Tso and Kailash range, people have gone to their nearest permanent
locations,” Gen Naravane added.
This, Naravane said, reduced the chances of miscalculation which could have
taken place due to face-to-face deployment of the two sets of troops. “Now
there is relative peace and tranquillity along the LAC,” he remarked.
India and China disengaged from the most contentious Pangong Lake area in
Ladakh last month after extensive talks at both military and diplomatic level.
However, disagreement still exists despite several rounds of talks since last
year, and disengagement is yet to take place from other friction areas like
Depsang, Hot Spring and Gogra.
The face-off, which began in late April-May May last year, led to a bloody
clash in the Galwan Valley on the night of June 15, that led to casualties on
both sides. It was the first time in more than 40 years that lives were lost
in a border skirmish along the LAC. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in
China initially didn’t disclose the number of casualties sustained by its
troops, officially admitting only in February that four of its soldiers were
killed while one was injured. However, it is believed that the number of
actual Chinese casualties is higher.