‘PLA troops tried to close in on Indian positions’

NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday categorically said Chinese troops had opened fire in the air in an attempt to intimidate Indian troops at a forward location in eastern Ladakh on Monday evening, rejecting a similar accusation made by the People’s Liberation Army earlier.
“At no stage has the Indian Army transgressed across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing.It is the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres, while engagement at military, diplomatic and political level is in progress,” said the Indian Army.
The use of firearms marks a very serious escalation along the 3,488-km LAC, where no shots have been fired by either side for the last 45 years, since the military confrontation began in eastern Ladakh in early-May.
Firearms were not used by either side even during the violent skirmish in Galwan Valley on June 15, which left 20 Indian and an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers dead.
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The fresh escalation comes even as external affairs minister S Jaishankar left for Moscow on Tuesday morning, where he is scheduled to meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) ministerial meet on September 10.
There were some reports that Indian troops fired a few warning shots in the air after they detected aggressive PLA troops trying to move towards the Mukhpari peak and Reqin La (Rechin mountain pass) in the larger Chushul area around 6.15 pm on Monday. This forced the PLA troops to retreat to their positions.
But the Indian Army said its troops had refrained from opening fire despite the grave provocation by the PLA. “In the instant case on 07 September 2020, it was the PLA troops who were attempting to close-in with one of our forward positions along the LAC and when dissuaded by own troops, PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate own troops. However, despite the grave provocation, own troops exercised great restraint and behaved in a mature and responsible manner,” the Army said in a statement.
“The Indian Army is committed to maintaining peace and tranquility. But is also determined to protect national integrity and sovereignty at all costs. The statement by China’s Western Theatre Command (WTC) is an attempt to mislead their domestic and international audience,” it added.
Mukhpari is the highest feature among the multiple heights occupied by Indian troops on August 29-30, with the ridge line stretching from the southern bank of Pangong Tso at Thakung to Gurung Hill, Spanggur Gap, Magar Hill, Mukhpari, Rezang La and Reqin La. Around 3,000 Indian troops, heavily-armed with rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles and other weapons, are now well entrenched on the tactical heights at altitudes over 15,000-feet.
Fuming at the proactive military manoeuvre undertaken by India, the PLA has made at least a couple of aggressive moves in the area that were blocked by Indian troops.
The PLA, which has deployed additional troops and tanks opposite the Chushul sector, has been strongly demanding that Indian soldiers vacate the heights that overlook the crucial PLA Moldo garrison, roads and the ingress route for tanks through the Spanggur Gap in the region, as was earlier reported by TOI.
China’s WTC late on Monday night had accused Indian troops of “illegally crossing the line” to enter the south bank of Pangong Tso and the Shenpao mountain area and “outrageously firing shots” in a “serious military provocation” of “a very bad nature”.
“During the operation, the Indian army blatantly fired threats to the patrol personnel of the Chinese border guards who had made representations. The Chinese border guards were forced to take countermeasures to stabilise the situation,” alleged the WTC spokesman Senior Colonel Zhang Shuili.
“The Indian side’s move seriously violated related agreements reached by both sides, stirred up tensions in the region, and would easily cause misunderstandings and misjudgments, which is a serious military provocation and is very vile in nature,” he said.
“We demand the Indian side to immediately stop dangerous moves, withdraw personnel who crossed the LAC at once, strictly control frontline troops, seriously investigate and punish the personnel who fired the provocative shot and ensure similar incidents won’t take place again,” he added.
Watch LAC row: Chinese army fired shots to intimidate own troops, Indian Army says

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