Army Headquarters play down the incident; says the matter was resolved amicably

Chinese troops apprehended five Indian nationals in the Chumar area of Ladakh, well inside the Indian territory, and took them to their side of the border — perhaps the first incident of this kind along the Line of Actual Control.

The five Indian nationals, along with their cattle, were apprehended by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops last week, a few kms within the Indian territory, and were taken to the PLA’s camp across the LAC in an apparent bid to stake their claim on the area, sources said.

The five nationals were handed over to the Indian side by the PLA troops, after some efforts were made in this regard under the existing border mechanisms between the two countries, they added.

The Army Headquarters sought to play down the incident saying the matter was resolved “amicably”, but sources said the Chinese side relented only after Indian Army authorities sought a flag meeting on the matter and warned that the issue would be raised at a higher level.

The headquarters also said that the detained Indian nationals were not army porters as was being speculated, but were civilians.

The incident has taken place after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement with China in October, seeking to prevent any flare-ups between the armies of the two countries on the LAC. Defence Minister A.K. Antony recently warned that the new border pact does not guarantee that nothing would happen in these areas in the future.

Transgressions by the Chinese troops have taken place often in Chumar, the only place along the Indo-China border where the Chinese do not have any direct access to the LAC.

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