Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said that India has not been able to “lead normal ties” with China following “multiple attempts at transgression of the line of actual control by China” last year.
The Centre has largely remained silent on the India-China border issue since reports of transgression at the LAC since last year.
Shringla was replying to a question of The Telegraph at a charity event in Darjeeling on Sunday said since 1988 it has been largely accepted that the two countries will isolate the border-related issue from others such as trade and people-to-people ties, but that will also depend on the premise of peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
“What we have seen last year is multiple attempts at transgression of the Line of Actual Control by China in eastern Ladakh. Obviously, that has contributed to anything but peace and tranquillity in the border areas, that has actually disturbed the peace and tranquillity as a result of which we have not been able to lead normal ties,” said Shringla.
In 1988, Rajiv Gandhi became India’s first Prime Minister to visit China in 34 years following an invitation by then Chinese premier Li Peng.
During that visit, it was agreed by India and China to set up a working committee on border issues and a separate committee for economy, trade and science and technology.
“The essential construct with China since 1988 has been that we will isolate the border related issue, it will be handled at the level of special representative of both countries, but we will go ahead with trade, with people-to-people ties and other areas but that was dedicated on peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” said Shringla.
The foreign secretary, however, added that these border issues were being discussed in the border talks.
“We have been discussing, even the issue of eastern Ladakh and the issues of last year with China in the border talks… We have had 13 rounds of senior commanders’ talks, we have had several rounds of what is called the working mechanism, the last talks took place just earlier this week,” the foreign secretary added.
The senior bureaucrat said that India’s stand was very clear on the matter.
“Essentially our point is very clear. You resolve the boundary issues, you resolve the border issues that were created by you and we could move forward on the other issues. Until those issues are addressed, we are not able to conduct what is a normal relation,” the official stressed.
Apart from the“attempts” of transgression in Ladakh, there are media reports and statements from the Congress that the latest intrusion could involve the building of infrastructure some 6-7 km inside Indian territory by the Chinese along with reported encroachments into Bhutanese territory.
On Monday, Shringla visited the north Bengal frontier headquarters of the Border Security Force (BSF) at Kadamtala on the outskirts of Siliguri.
Ravi Gandhi, inspector general of the north Bengal frontier of the force, had an interaction during which the foreign secretary was briefed about the prevailing situation on the India-Bangladesh border and how the BSF, along with Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) were working to strengthen security at the borders.
A number of other issues concerning security, diplomacy and bilateral matters were discussed in detail during the visit, said sources.
Additional reporting from Avijit Sinha in Siliguri