India Hits Back at China on UT Status to Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh

Foreign Affairs

New Delhi: Taking strong exception to China objecting to splitting of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh into Union Territories on midnight of October 30, India said its sovereignty was being challenged.

Asking China to refrain from commenting on internal matter of this country, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a strongly worded statement called out China for its illegal occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir, stating: “We do not expect other countries, including China, to comment on matters that are internal to India, just as India refrains from commenting on the internal issues of other countries.”

At midnight on October 30, nearly three months after the Centre scrapped special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution, it replaced the former state with two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

“The Indian government officially announced the establishment of so-called Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh Union Territories which included some of China’s territory into its administrative jurisdiction,” Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Beijing.

“China deplores and firmly opposes this. This is unlawful and void and this is not effective in any way and will not change the fact that the area is under Chinese actual control,” he stressed, urging India to “earnestly respect Chinese territorial sovereignty” and “uphold peace and tranquility in the border areas”.

Responding sharply to it, India reminded China that it expected other countries to “respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Foreign Minister S Jaishankar visited China in August this year, shortly after the Centre announced its decision on Article 370. Jaishankar told his counterpart, Wang Yi, that revocation of special status was an internal matter and did not affect either external boundaries of India or the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“There was no implication for either the external boundaries of India or the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. India is not raising any additional territorial claims. The issue related to changes is a temporary provision of the Constitution of India and was the sole prerogative of the country,” the Foreign Minister told China.

China occupies large tracts of land in the newly-formed Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. It also illegally acquired Indian territories from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) under the so-called China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement of 1963.

India’s decision on Jammu and Kashmir also drew strong criticism from Pakistan, with Prime Minister Imran Khan raising the issue repeatedly – but unsuccessfully – at global forums like the United Nations, only to be told that the decision on Article 370 is India’s internal matter.

In October, India slammed Pakistan for raising the Jammu and Kashmir issue at the UN, calling out its neighbour for employing “empty rhetoric” to serve a “distorted agenda”.