Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said that the progress in negotiations with China should help resolve the ongoing border dispute but he “couldn’t guarantee to what extent the situation will be resolved”, underling that progress in resolving the tensions along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two nuclear powers has been a challenging and arduous process. Addressing soldiers at Lukung on the western bank of Ladakh’s Pangong Tso, which has been at the centre of the current border tensions, Singh also said that no power could “touch or grab even an inch of Indian territory”. Lukung is 43km from Finger 4 on the northern bank of Pangong lake.
The defence minister’s comments came a day after India said the complex disengagement process with China on the LAC is specifically aimed at preventing “face-off situations”, and any unilateral attempts to change the status quo on the disputed border won’t be accepted. Two days after senior military commanders from both sides met at Chushul, the Indian Army on Thursday said complete disengagement is an “intricate process” requiring “constant verification”.
Singh, who landed in Leh on Friday morning, was briefed on the security situation in the sensitive sector including the actual position of troops on both sides of the contested border, people familiar with the developments said. He also witnessed a series of combat manoeuvres at nearby Stakna featuring C-130J special operations aircraft dropping paratroopers, Apache AH-64E attack helicopters, T-90 tanks, infantry combat vehicles and Mi-17 helicopters — with the military imagery meant to signal India’s resolve and readiness to deal with any eventuality in the region.