New Delhi, Sep 6 IANS | 2 years ago

China has not occupied Indian territory afresh or stopped Indian troops from accessing any part of Indian land, Defence Minister A.K. Antony asserted Friday but admitted that China's infrastructure in the border areas was superior and this "mistake" has to be accepted by all.

Replying to clarifications on his statement on the report by National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) chairman Shyam Saran on infrastructure in Ladakh, Antony told the Rajya Sabha that India had started building its infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) after years of indifference.

The minister said there had been a policy in the past not to develop border areas. He said while trying to improve relations with China and find solution to the boundary problem, the government will continue to strengthen capabilities along the border.

Antony said there were disputed areas along the LAC and both sides conduct patrols according to their perception. Earlier, in his statement in the two houses, he denied reports that Saran had said in his report that China had occupied 640 km of Indian territory.

"I would like to state categorically that Shyam Saran has not stated in (his) report that China has occupied or has denied access to India to any part of Indian territory," Antony said.

A former foreign secretary, Saran visited Ladakh last month and submitted a report to the Prime Minister's Office and the defence ministry.

"There is no question of India ceding to China any part of Indian territory. The government keeps a constant watch on all developments having a bearing on India's security and takes all measures to safeguard it," he said, adding Saran's report was primarily focused on border infrastructure.

In a submission on Antony's statement, Bharatiya Janata Party member and former minister Yashwant Sinha claimed Chinese were "nibbling" at India's border and asked Antony to tell parliament the "truth" in the matter.

"I appeal to the government with folded hands, please tell us what is the truth. What is the challenge we face today on the LAC and the whole nation will be with you."

Noting it was "not a question of physical strength but of political will power", he said: "Please develop that capacity and courage to meet the Chinese headlong."

India and China fought a bitter border war in 1962 and both countries accuse each other of occupying territory either's. A series of border talks have not helped overcome the differences.

Members in the Rajya Sabha sought clarifications from Antony and expressed concern over growing incursions by Chinese troops and extent of India's infrastructure in border areas.

Antony said India had lost territory to China in 1962 and 1963.

"This is a legacy, this is a reality," he said. He said there were many points along the LAC on which the two countries do not agree and the areas were regarded as disputed. He said even though the border issue was unsettled, there were vast areas of agreement about the LAC.

He said patrols of two sides sometimes cross and there have been face-offs in the last few years.

Antony said solutions had been found in cases of border incursions, referring to the Chinese troops' incursion in the Depsang area of Ladakh in April.

The minister said in the "older days", there was a policy not to develop border areas as undeveloped border was considered a better option.

"China started (development) years ago. In areas of infrastructure, China (is) superior. From day one, China continued to develop roads, airfields in their areas," Antony said, adding that India started developing it after years of indifference and that too at a slow pace.

He said there will be no compromise on building border capabilities. "We will continue to strengthen border capabilities, at the same time protect every inch of Indian land. At the same time, we want peaceful solution to the long-standing border issue."

(Posted on 07-09-2013)