An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of the Indian Army that crashed into the Chinese side of the border was on a regular training mission and lost contact with ground control due to technical problem, the Ministry of Defence said in New Delhi. In a statement, it also claimed that “as per standard protocol, the Indian border security personnel immediately alerted their Chinese counterparts to locate the UAV”.
The Indian clarification came in the wake of China’s defence ministry accusing India of violating its airspace. “The Indian move violated China's territorial sovereignty. We strongly express our dissatisfaction and opposition," deputy director of the Chinese Army’s western theatre combat bureau Zhang Shuil, said in a statement.
In response, the Indian side said, “An Indian UAV which was on a regular training mission inside the Indian territory lost contact with the ground control due to some technical problem and crossed over the LAC [Line of Actual Control] in the Sikkim Sector.”
The MoD said the Chinese side reverted with the location details of the UAV. The exact cause of the incident is under investigation.
An MOD spokesperson said, “The matter is being dealt with in accordance with the established protocols through institutional mechanisms to deal with situations along the India- China border areas.”
Earlier, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing in Beijing that “an Indian UAV invaded China’s airspace and crashed in the Sikkim section of the China-India border”. He said the Chinese border troops had taken a “professional and responsible attitude” to verify the device.
“I want to point out that the Sikkim section of the China India border has been delimited,” he said, in an apparent reference to the 1890 China-British Treaty .
Mr. Geng did not spell out when the incident took place.
“The action of the Indian side violated China’s sovereignty and it is not conducive to the peace and tranquillity of the border area and China is dissatisfied with this and lodged solemn representation with the Indian side,” Mr. Geng said.
In a diplomatic protest to India, “China asked the Indian side to stop the activities of the devices near the border and work with China to maintain peace and tranquillity of the border areas”, he said.
Mr. Geng refused to not confirm if the incident took place near Doklam, where the two countries were locked in a 73-day-long border standoff that ended on August 28.