China has not occupied Indian territory afresh or stopped Indian troops from accessing any part of Indian land, Defence Minister AK Antony asserted on Friday. "I would like to state categorically that Shyam Saran has not stated in (his) report that China has occupied or has denied access to India to any part of Indian territory," Antony told the Lok Sabha.
A former foreign secretary, Saran, who heads the National Security Advisory Board, visited Ladakh last month and submitted a report to the Prime Minister's Office and the defence ministry. A section of the media quoted the report as saying that China had taken over a large chunk of Indian territory in the Ladakh region and was preventing the Indian Army from accessing it.
Reading out a prepared statement, Antony said, "There is no question of India ceding to China any part of Indian territory. The government keeps a constant watch on all developments having a bearing on India's security and takes all measures to safeguard it."
"I would further like to assure the house that the government would continue to strengthen our capabilities in border areas to protect our national interest," said Antony. Both houses of parliament Friday saw noisy protests by opposition members demanding a statement from Antony over media reports claiming that Chinese troops have intruded into Indian territory.
According to the minister, Saran's report was primarily focused on border infrastructure and also dealt with several aspects relating to the region. "In this context, issues such as availability of modern machinery for construction and maintenance of roads, upgradation of roads, tunneling, and alternate alignments, among others have also been discussed," said Antony.
He said the report also deals with the requirement of air facilities in the region and issues related to land acquisition. Other matters such as employment opportunities to local youth, tourism, mobile and internet connectivity, law and order, and better equipment and facilities for the Indo-Tibetan Border Police have been covered, he said.
India and China fought a border war in 1962, and both countries accuse one another of occupying territory. A series of border talks have not helped overcome border differences.