NEW DELHI: The defence establishment has officially acknowledged that Chinese soldiers intruded into Indian territory in eastern Ladakh in May, amid the ongoing deadlock over troop disengagement at the faceoff sites in Pangong Tso and Gogra despite five rounds of top-level military talks.

The word ‘transgression’ — used by India as a euphemism for ‘intrusion’ across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China — has not found mention in any official statement or document since the military confrontation erupted after the first clash between rival troops on the north bank of Pangong Tso on May 5-6. The document said the stand-off could be prolonged and the evolving situation may need prompt action.

Defence minister 

Rajnath Singh

, in a television interview in end-May, had said a sizeable number of Chinese soldiers had “come a little further than they used to earlier”. But it was officially clarified that it should not be “misinterpreted as if Chinese troops entered the Indian side of the LAC”.

After the bloody clashes in 

Galwan Valley

 on June 15, which left 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese troops dead, the external affairs ministry said the Chinese attempt to erect structures “just across the LAC” had led to the clashes. The MEA also said China had hindered “traditional” Indian patrolling patterns.

 

Subsequent MEA statements stressed the need for restoration of status quo through early and complete disengagement of troops “along the LAC” and de-escalation in accordance with bilateral agreements and protocols.

 

TOI has been reporting since May that PLA soldiers have intruded into Indian territory at multiple points in eastern Ladakh. The MoD document, which recounts the “major activities” undertaken in June, uses the word ‘transgression’ to describe the Chinese aggression on the LAC since May.

After the Chinese transgression, the first corps commander-level talks were held on June 6 to defuse the situation, but the “violent faceoff” took place on June 15, “resulting in casualties of both sides”, the government said.

 

Taking note of the second corps commander-level talks on June 22, it said, “While engagement and dialogue at military and diplomatic level is continuing to arrive at mutually acceptable consensus, the present standoff is likely to be prolonged. The situation in eastern Ladakh arising from unilateral aggression by China continues to be sensitive and requires close monitoring and prompt action based on the evolving situation.”

 

As reported by TOI earlier, the fifth round of corps commander-level talks on August 2 failed to break the stalemate over the stalled troop disengagement in the Pangong Tso area, where a large number of PLA troops have occupied the 8-km stretch from ‘Finger-4’ to ‘Finger-8’ (mountainous spurs jutting into the lake) since May.

 

A smaller number of PLA troops have not withdrawn from PP-17A at Gogra. The PLA has also remained intransigent about its deep intrusion into what India considers its territory in the strategically-located Depsang-Daulat Beg Oldie sector.

 

Sources on Wednesday reiterated that more military talks, with higher politico-diplomatic intervention, will be required to break the stalemate. “There was no meeting ground during the military talks on August 2. Both sides did not agree to each other’s proposals,” said a source.