Indian fighter jets engage in show of strength over flashpoint Himalayan area as China repeats India provoked June 15 border clash.
Indian fighter jets have roared over a flashpoint Himalayan region as part of a show of strength even as China again accused India of provoking the border clash earlier this month that killed at least 20 soldiers.
Indian jets regularly took off on Wednesday from a military base in Leh, the main Indian town in the contested Indian-administered Ladakh region, and headed towards the mountainous border 240km (150 miles) away.
There were also checkpoints on main roads outside Leh and a frenzy of military activity around the main town, which lies at an altitude of 3,500 metres (11,500 feet).
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Residents reported long lines of military trucks and artillery on roads near Leh.
“We now have a good strength present in the area,” an official of the Indian army’s Northern Command told on condition of anonymity, referring to the reinforcements.
Tashi Chhepal, a retired Indian army captain who has served in the area and is based in Leh, said the mobilisation was unprecedented in a sensitive region touching Pakistan as well as China.
“I haven’t seen this kind of military movement before,” he said.
Meanwhile, China’s defence ministry on Wednesday said the June 15 border clash in the disputed Galwan Valley was caused by the Indian side.
Chinese troops had taken “defensive measures and determinedly counterattacked against the Indian side’s violent actions, successfully protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity”, the Chinese ministry said on its social media account.
The Indian actions violated a consensus between the two countries and were a unilateral provocation, it said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian also asserted that the confrontation occurred on China’s side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) the de facto border dividing the two nuclear powers and that Indian forces had illegally entered Chinese territory.
“The responsibility is entirely not on the Chinese side,” Zhao said at a daily news briefing on Wednesday.
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“The reckless actions by the Indian military seriously violated agreements signed between the two countries and seriously violated the basic principles of international relations. They were evil in nature and the consequences were severe,” Zhao said.
Asked why China was offering such a lengthy defence of its position when the two sides had already agreed to reduce tensions, Zhao said it was to counter a “large amount of fake news” on the matter being circulated by Indian diplomats and the country’s media.
An Indian federal minister earlier this week claimed 40 Chinese soldiers were also killed in the Galwan Valley clash, but did not provide any evidence. China has not released any information on casualties on its side.