ITBP, Chinese forces face off in Demchok over water project

". . . Its an eyeball-to-eyeball situation there," says a top government official.

November 03, 2016 02:33 pm | Updated December 02, 2016 01:14 pm IST - New Delhi

The Indo Tibetan Border Police and the Army have been engaged in a face- off with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army along the Line of Actual Control in Leh’s Demchok area since Wednesday, a top government official told The Hindu .

The official said around 50 Chinese Army personnel had come close to the Indian side of the LAC and were refusing to go back. The Chinese side is objecting to an irrigation project under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to link a village with a ‘hot spring’.

“The Chinese Army came on Wednesday afternoon and stayed till night. They went back and returned this morning. It’s an eyeball-to-eyeball situation there. Both the sides have held their ground,” said the official.

The Chinese troops took positions and demanded that work be stopped as either side needs permission before undertaking any work. India disputed the claim, stating that as per the agreement between the two countries, information about construction needs to be shared only if it was meant for defence purposes.

This is the first time since the 2014 incident when Chinese Army had come deep inside the Indian territory in Demchok to protest an ongoing irrigation project.

There were nearly 70 ITBP personnel at the site and the Army had fortified the area and prevented further march of the Chinese forces into Indian territory, the official said.

The face-off comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated Diwali with Army jawans at a village in Himachal Pradesh, close to the border with China.

Leh’s deputy commissioner Prasanna Ramaswamy G. refused to comment on the issue. The official Twitter handle of Army’s Northern Command posted a message saying there was “No Chinese incursion across LAC in Eastern Ladakh.” It further said, “Issues relating to construction projects on both sides of LAC were being resolved at border personnel meeting (BPM) point.” There are designated BPMs at various mutually agreed points along the LAC.

In April, residents of Demchok village demanded resettlement due to continued objections by China on laying a drinking water pipeline linking a hot spring to their village.

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