PTI/ Rashtrapati Bhavan_Twitter
Amid heightened tensions between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, President Ram Nath Kovind announced a visit to the Union Territory to celebrate Dussehra with troops. On October 14, the President will perform Sindhu Darshan puja at Sindhu Ghat, Leh and pay tributes at the Kargil War Memorial in Drass. Notably, the constitutional head of the Executive, during his 2-day-visit, is set to interact with the Indian Armed Forces at Udhampur and meet with officers and jawans at the memorial too.
President Kovind's impending visit comes at the time when militaries of both Asian countries engaged in a face-off over the notional demarcation of LAC in Arunachal Pradesh. On October 8, the skirmish between the Indian Army and PLA is said to have lasted a few hours. While no casualty was reported, the contradictory perception of the LAC was resolved as per existing protocols.
As against Beijing's self-imposed and fabricated opposition to Vice President Naidu's visit to Arunachal Pradesh on October 9, the President's visit to Ladakh is likely to set a tone and send a curt message to China. As the Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces, the President will communicate with troops stationed at sensitive regions of the country and boost their morales.
Rebutting China's usual hogwash and provocative statements, the spokesperson for External Affairs Ministry, Arindam Bagchi, dismissed any ambiguity in relation to Arunachal Pradesh's status in the country. In addition, the MEA urged Beijing to 'work towards early resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh' rather than 'trying to link unrelated issues'. The reply holds relevance as the Xi Jinping-led administration was said to have 'firmly opposed' Vice President Vekaiah Naidu's visit to Arunachal Pradesh on October 9.
Dismissing China's self-made locus in internal interests and matters of the country, Bagchi said that Beijing's objection to the visit of an Indian leader to one of the Indian states (Arunachal Pradesh) was beyond the 'understanding of Indian people'. Notably, the MEA spokesperson countered China's self-imposed face-off at Line of Actual Control (LAC) and its 'unilateral attempts' to alter the notional demarcation line between two sovereign Asian countries.
"Further, as we have mentioned earlier, the current situation along the LAC in the Western Sector of the India-China border areas has been caused by unilateral attempts of the Chinese side to alter the status quo in violation of the bilateral agreements."
"Therefore, we expect the Chinese side to work towards early resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh while fully abiding by bilateral agreements and protocols rather than trying to link unrelated issues,” Indian responded to China.
In an opportunity to buttress its stand, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian asserted that Arunachal Pradesh is not recognised as an Indian state by Beijing. Lijian was asked by a Chinese state-affiliated media house to comment on VP Naidu's visit to the state.
China had said, "The Chinese government never recognises the so-called Arunachal Pradesh established unilaterally and illegally by the Indian side and is firmly opposed to the Indian leaders' visits to the area concerned. We urge the Indian side to earnestly respect China's major concerns, stop taking any action that would complicate and expand the boundary issue and refrain from undermining mutual trust and bilateral relations."