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Indian, Chinese troops face off in Eastern Ladakh, Sikkim

The Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh. File

The Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Two incidents of face-off occurred between Indian and Chinese troops last week, resulting in injuries to several soldiers of both sides, Army sources confirmed.

The first incident occurred in Eastern Ladakh on May 5 and the second occurred at Naku La, Sikkim, on May 9. The issues were resolved locally.

“An incident of face-off took place between the troops and, as a result of aggressive behaviour, minor injuries were caused to both sides. Troops disengaged after dialogue and interaction at the local level,” Army sources said on Sunday, speaking about the incident in the Naku La sector, ahead of Muguthang, at an altitude of over 16,000 feet. A large number of troops were present, and at least four Indian and seven Chinese troops were reportedly injured.

Sources said the face-off in Eastern Ladakh occurred on the intervening night of May 5 and 6 near Pangong Tso lake, a major part of which China holds. Several soldiers were injured in a scuffle. “The issue was resolved locally by the morning of May 6,” the sources said. Pangong Tso has witnessed such incidents in the past, including in 2017 and 2019.

Temporary and brief face-offs occur because the boundary is undemarcated, the sources said, and troops resolve such issues as per the established protocols. “Such an incident occurred after a long time,” the sources said of the Naku La incident.

A defence source said that at Muguthang, the road on the Chinese side is motorable, and on the Indian side, it is a remote area. Due to this, they can bring in a large number of troops if need be, the source added.

Both countries have differing perceptions owing to the undemarcated boundary, which lead to transgressions and face-offs as each side patrols up to the areas they claim along the 3,448-km Line of Actual Control (LAC). Any such issue is resolved through the mechanisms put in place to maintain peace and tranquillity on the border.

In September 2019, a scuffle broke out between the patrol teams of both sides near Pangong Tso. The issue was resolved in a few hours after a delegation-level meeting at the Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) point at Chushul. In August 2017, a video surfaced, showing several hundred soldiers hurling stones at each other.

In January 2020, Army chief Gen. Manoj Naravane said the Army was rebalancing advanced weaponry to the northern borders. He said that after the Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April 2018, differences over the border were being settled at the lowest level. Following the “strategic guidelines”, small differences are “sorted out locally and not allowed to escalate”, he said.

The Wuhan summit ended the impasse in the relationship following the 73-day stand-off between the two Armies at Doklam in 2017.

According to information given in Parliament by the government in November 2019, there were 1,025 transgressions by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army along the LAC between 2016 and 2018. There were 273 transgressions in 2016, 426 in 2017 and 326 in 2018, the government had informed.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2020 6:17:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indian-chinese-troops-face-off-in-eastern-ladakh-sikkim/article31548893.ece

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