The government on Friday strongly objected to the misinformation in media and its amplification on social media on the disengagement of Indian and Chinese troops, currently underway in Ladakh after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi claimed India has ceded territory to China.
China and India on Thursday began their synchronized disengagement along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh, bringing to an end the nine-month-long stand-off between the two Asian giants.
However, some sections of the media have claimed that India has ceded the territory between Finger 3 and 4 in Pangong Lake area, over which the face-off had triggered between the two sides since last year.
In a statement, the Ministry of Defence described this assertion that Indian territory in Ladakh is up to Finger 4 as "categorically false".
Reiterating that the factual position has already been clearly communicated by the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in his statements to both Houses of the Parliament.
Setting the record straight, the ministry said the territory of India is as depicted by the map of India and includes more than 43,000 sq km currently under illegal occupation of China since 1962. Even the Line of Actual Control as per the Indian perception, is at Finger 8, not at Finger 4.
"That is why India has persistently maintained the right to patrol up to Finger 8"
"That is why India has persistently maintained the right to patrol up to Finger 8, including in the current understanding with China," the statement said.
Permanent posts of both sides at the north bank of Pangong Tso are longstanding and well-established. On the Indian side, it is Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3 and on the Chinese side, east of Finger 8, the ministry added.
The current agreement, the ministry said, provides for cessation of forward deployment by both sides and continued deployment at these permanent posts.
The government asserted that India has not conceded any territory as a result of this agreement. "On the contrary, it has enforced observance and respect for LAC and prevented any unilateral change in the status quo," the defence ministry said.
The minister's statement also made clear that there are outstanding problems to be addressed, including at Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang. The outstanding issues are to be taken up within 48 hours of the completion of the Pangong Tso disengagement, the government said.
"The effective safeguarding of our national interest and territory in the Eastern Ladakh sector has taken place because the Government has reposed full faith in the capabilities of the armed forces," the defence ministry said.
The ministry added, "Those who doubt the achievements made possible by the sacrifices of our military personnel are actually disrespecting them."