Indian graziers were stopped by the Chinese army at Demchok in Ladakh on August 21, a senior government official said.
According to the official, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) objected to the presence of graziers within India’s perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) near Saddle Pass at CNN junction in Demchok. The incident was followed by a couple of meetings between the commanders of the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA to resolve the issue.
The graziers have been frequenting the area and there was a minor scuffle in 2019 also, said the official.
“This time when the graziers went with the livestock, the Chinese objected that this was their territory. The issue was raised with the Chinese,” the official said.
A defence source said there was no face-off between the two armies. “It was a routine interaction between local commanders on the ground level to resolve issues at the local level to prevent escalation and maintain peace and tranquility on the LAC. This keeps happening regularly all along the LAC as part of the agreed protocols,” the source said.
Another official added that India and China are engaged in eye-ball to eye-ball positions in the area since April 2020. Many areas in the sector have become “no patrolling zones” post-Galwan incident on June 15, 2020, when as many as 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with the Chinese PLA.
In 2018, China had pitched tents metres away from the Charding Nilung Nallah in Demchok or the CNN junction.
Indian and Chinese troops are positioned in close proximity at multiple locations along the undefined LAC in Eastern Ladakh for more than two years. While several rounds of talks at the diplomatic and military level have eased the standoff at a few points turning the areas into no-patrolling zones, there are others where the build-up continues.
India and China have held 16 rounds of meetings of Senior Commanders so far. Both sides failed to achieve a breakthrough for disengagement at Patrolling Point 15 in the Hot Springs area. With disengagement completed on the north and south bank of Pangong Tso, a phased disengagement is yet to take place in other friction areas in Eastern Ladakh, including Depsang and Demchok sectors.
In 2016, there was a standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in the Demchok area as PLA objected to the construction of an irrigation canal under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) scheme.
Reacting to the report, first published in the The Hindu, Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said in a tweet that the Government of India is in complete denial while “China challenges our territorial sovereignty”. “The Modi government must recognise the Chinese challenge and our lands and rights are restored,” Mr. Kharge said.