Indian fighter jets have roared at a peak in the Himalayas as part of a show of force, even as China again accused India of provoking the border clash earlier this month that killed at least 20 soldiers.
Indian planes took off regularly on Wednesday from a military base in Leh, the main Indian city in the disputed Indian-run Ladakh region, and were headed for the mountain border 150 miles (240 km) away.
There were also checkpoints on major roads outside of Leh and a frenzy of military activity around the main city, which is located at an altitude of 3,500 meters (11,500 feet).
Residents reported long lines of military trucks and artillery on the roads near Leh.
“We now have a good force present in the area,” an Indian Army Northern Command official told the AFP news agency 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 mobilization was unprecedented in a sensitive region that touches Pakistan and China.
“I have not seen this type of military movement before,” he told AFP.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Defense Ministry said on Wednesday the border clash of June 15. in the disputed Galwan valley It was caused by the Indian side.
The Chinese troops had taken “defensive and decisively counterattacked measures against the violent actions of the Indian side, 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, he said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian also claimed that the confrontation occurred on the side of China’s Current Control Line (LAC), the de facto border dividing the two nuclear powers, and that the Indian forces they had illegally entered Chinese territory.
“The responsibility is not entirely on the Chinese side,” Zhao said at a daily press conference on Wednesday.
“The reckless actions of the Indian army seriously violated the 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.
When asked why China offered such a long defense of its position when the two sides had already agreed to reduce tensions, Zhao said it was to counter “a lot of false news” on the issue circulating by Indian diplomats and the the country’s media.
An Indian federal minister earlier this week claimed that 40 Chinese soldiers were also killed in the Galwan Valley clash, but provided no evidence. China has not released any victim information on its part.
Indian traders will boycott Chinese products
After the last round of talks between military commanders on Monday and Tuesday, Zhao had previously said that the two sides had “agreed to take the necessary steps to promote a cooling of the situation.”
Experts say a major reason behind the tensions between India and China is New Delhi’s unilateral move last year to repeal the partial autonomy of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir, which also included disputed areas in the Ladakh region. .
China has also opposed India opening the 158-mile (255 km) Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) highway, built across LAC, last year.
China, which saw the movement as a threat to its interests in the region, is trying to assert control over territory along the border that is not clearly defined in some places, according to experts.
In total, China claims about 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of territory in Northeast India, including the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, with its traditionally Buddhist population.
India says China occupies 38,000sq km (15,000sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the Western Himalayas, including a part of the Ladakh region.
Al Jazeera and news agencies