NEW DELHI: The build-up of troops along the India-China border notwithstanding, the two sides are not engaged in violence, the Indian Army said on Sunday, rejecting reports of clashes between the two countries.
The two countries are to have more talks this week at the level of the military commanders as well as through diplomatic channels to end the confrontation now into their third week and seen as the most serious since the 2017 Doklam standoff.
The Army statement follows a video circulated on social media that shows Indian and Chinese troops engaged in clashes at the Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh.
“The contents of video being circulated are not authenticated. Attempts to link it with the situation on the northern borders are malafide. Currently no violence is happening. Differences are being addressed through interaction between military commanders, guided by established protocols on management of borders between the two countries," the Indian Army said in the statement.
The statement came as a news report by ANI on Sunday said that China was continuing to pour in troops backed by infantry combat vehicles and artillery guns on their side of the LAC. These were stationed 25-30 kilometres from the LAC and could be brought forward at short notice, the report said.
Tensions have been running high between India and China along the disputed LAC border since earlier this month, with reports of physical clashes between their troops at multiple locations in Ladakh and one location in Sikkim. In Ladakh, troops of India and China have been engaged in a major standoff for more than three weeks at Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in what seems to be the biggest confrontation between the two countries after the Doklam standoff in Bhutan in 2017.
The trigger for the face-off was China's opposition to India building a key road around the Pangong Tso lake besides construction of another link road connecting the Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley which lies close to the LAC. India has been slowly building up border infrastructure in recent years but is still behind China which has built motorable roads right upto the LAC. Following the clashes with Indian troops earlier this month, China reportedly diverted troops from a military exercise and moved them to forward locations in the Galwan Valley. India has matched the Chinese deployment on the ground, two people familiar with the matter said last week.
The 2 minutes 45-seconds video clip shows Indian security personnel challenging a group of Chinese soldiers who had brought in their Dongfeng vehicle – similar in design to the US-built Humvee armored military vehicles.
"We strongly condemn attempts to sensationalise issues impacting national security. The media is requested not to air visuals that are likely to vitiate the current situation on the borders," the Indian army statement added. But the release of the clip seemed to have unleashed a Twitter war with an unauthenticated picture purportedly showing Chinese troops wearing masks standing over some Indian troops who are seen lying on the ground.
On Saturday, speaking to Aaj Tak news channel, defence minister Rajnath Singh said India was in talks with China at military and diplomatic levels to ease tensions along the border. Singh also said he had conveyed to his US counterpart Mark Esper that India and China have established mechanisms in place to sort out such bilateral issues and would resolve the current problem through dialogue. Singh’s statement came on the back of two offers to “mediate or arbitrate" from US President Donald Trump.