'Exaggerated and untenable', says MEA over China's sovereignty claim of Galwan Valley

New Delhi [India], June 18 (ANI): India late on Wednesday in a sharp response called out China's "exaggerated and untenable" claim of sovereignty over Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh and reminded Beijing that such claims are contrary to the understanding reached on the issue between the two sides.

Responding to a query on the statement by the Chinese side that the sovereignty of the Galwan Valley belongs to China, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said "Making exaggerated and untenable claims is contrary to this understanding."

India and China have agreed to handle the tense situation in Ladakh in a "responsible manner" and implement the "disengagement understanding" reached between senior commanders on June 6, he said.

Srivastava, "As we have conveyed earlier today, the External Affairs Minister and the State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China had a phone conversation on recent developments in Ladakh. Both sides have agreed that the overall situation should be handled in a responsible manner and that the understandings reached between Senior Commanders on 6th June should be implemented sincerely. Making exaggerated and untenable claims is contrary to this understanding."

Srivastava's remarks came within a few hours after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar earlier on Wednesday conveyed a clear and unequivocal tough message to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that whatever happened in Galwan was a "pre-mediated and planned action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties."

Jaishankar's message was strong in tone and tenor as he told Wang Yi that this "unprecedented development will have a serious impact on the bilateral relationship." Sounding the warning bell the Indian Foreign Minister told his counterpart "the need of the hour was for the Chinese side to reassess its actions and take corrective steps."

India wants restoration of old status quo along the Line of Actual Control prevailing before May 2020 when the first reports of Chinese incursions started appearing.

Jaishankar conveyed the protest of the Indian government in the strongest terms on the violent face-off in Galwan Valley on June 15, saying it reflected an intent to change the facts on the ground in violation of all our agreements to not change the status quo.

Twenty Indian Army personnel, including a Colonel, were killed in the violent face-off. Indian intercepts have revealed that the Chinese side suffered 43 casualties including dead and seriously injured in the violent clash. The commanding officer of the Chinese Unit is among those killed, sources confirmed to ANI.

The EAM recalled that at the meeting of senior Military Commanders held on June 6, an agreement was reached on de-escalation and disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and ground commanders were meeting regularly to implement this consensus throughout the last week.

According to an External Affairs Ministry release, Jaishankar said while there was some progress, "the Chinese side sought to erect a structure in Galwan valley on our side of the LAC".

"While this became a source of dispute, the Chinese side took pre-meditated and planned action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties. It reflected an intent to change the facts on ground in violation of all our agreements to not change the status quo," the minister stressed.

He further said the two sides should scrupulously and sincerely implement the understanding that was reached by the senior commanders on June 6 and troops of both sides should also abide by the bilateral agreements and protocols.

They should strictly respect and observe the line of actual control and should not take any unilateral action to alter it. At the conclusion of the discussion, it was agreed that the overall situation would be handled in a responsible manner, and both sides would implement the disengagement understanding of 6 June sincerely. "Neither side would take any action to escalate matters and instead, ensure peace and tranquillity as per bilateral agreements and protocols," the release said.

It said that Foreign Minister of China, on his part, conveyed the Chinese position on recent developments. Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged at the Galwan area in Ladakh where they had earlier clashed on the night of June 15 and 16, Indian Army said on Tuesday. (ANI)