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India protests China ‘violation’

New Delhi, Aug. 1: India has protested against what it has said is a violation of the latest confidence-building pact between Beijing and New Delhi after Chinese troops tailed an Indian patrol in eastern Ladakh.

The protest was registered at a flag meeting between the two armies on July 15, defence minister Arun Jaitley has told Parliament in a written reply.

“Since the signing of the BDCA (Border Defence Cooperation Agreement), Chinese troops have, on one occasion, violated the provision by tailing our patrol in eastern Ladakh on June 2,” Jaitley said.

The BDCA was signed during (then) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing on November 23 last year. The first violation of the pact was reported on June 2, a week after the Modi government was sworn in.

“As per article VI of BDCA the two sides agree that they shall not follow or tail patrols of the other side in areas where there is no common understanding of the Line of Actual Control in the Indo-China border areas,” Jaitley explained.

Almost the entire India-China frontier is disputed.

In a separate reply, the defence minister said “(the) government has taken cognisance of the infrastructural developments along the border by neighbouring countries including China. (The) Government keeps a constant watch on all developments having a bearing on India’s security and takes all necessary measures to safeguard it.”

The Indian defence establishment has been prioritising the development of border roads. Out of 73 roads identified as strategic border roads, 17 have been completed so far, said Jaitley. Most of the roads are in the Northeast.

He admitted there was a delay because they were held up for environment clearances, hard rock stretches, seasonal limitations on work and sourcing construction material.

The defence ministry has asked for a “general approval” from the environment and forests ministry for the strategic roads. The defence ministry has also earmarked Rs 1,000 crore in the current fiscal for strategic railway lines.