New Delhi: The border tensions between India and China have flared up once again in the last one week with several troops from both sides left injured following fist fights and stone-pelting in the Ladakh and North Sikkim regions. While the situation in Sikkim is said to have been “resolved”, official “disengagement” has taken place in Ladakh, even though additional troops have been pressed in.
Army sources told ThePrint that the incident in Ladakh happened on the evening of 5 May, near the northern banks of the 134-km Pangong Tso lake. A similar clash took place in the region in September 2019 too.
Two-thirds of the lake, which extends from Tibet to Ladakh, is controlled by China.
The sources said the Chinese objected to the presence of Indians in the disputed area, and an argument quickly took the shape of a brawl with the Indians standing their ground. The soldiers indulged in a “fist fight and stone pelting”, which led to half a dozen injuries on the Indian side, including that of a young officer, the sources said, adding there were several injuries on the Chinese side too.
Situation is ‘under control’ now
The official “disengagement” in Ladakh happened on 6 May after formation commanders spoke to each other. However, the sources said, the matter has been noted for the next formal discussions between higher military authorities on both sides. They added that the situation is under control now.
Though the disengagement has happened, additional forces have been brought in to ensure no more violence takes place. Since ‘Operation Juniper’ — when Indian troops moved into Doklam, a small territory in Bhutan, to stop the Chinese army from constructing a road that threatens India’s strategic interests — India has increased focus on its northern and eastern boundaries than being purely Pakistan centric.
Army Chief Gen M.M. Naravane had said the force was “re-balancing” its deployment and strategy along the western, northern and northeastern borders to deal with any kind of threat that might emerge — be it from Pakistan or China. While disengagement happened in Doklam, both sides have continued with their build-up a few metres away from their face-off location.
The area was witness to a similar incident in September last year. The incident had rung alarm bells in the defence circles in New Delhi as it came just a month ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s scheduled visit to India for an informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. To prevent the situation from spiralling into a major confrontation, the Army activated the established bilateral mechanism for defusing such situations.
Face-off near Sikkim’s Naku La
Meanwhile, at least 12 Indian and Chinese soldiers were injured in stone pelting and fist fight along the Line of Actual Control in North Sikkim Saturday after a patrol party of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) personnel was stopped.
Army sources said the intense stand-off was later resolved with the intervention of officers at the local Command level. The confrontation happened near the Naku La sector, a pass at a height of more than 5,000 metres.
A patrol party of the PLA came across Indian soldiers in an area they consider Chinese territory. This led to the face-off and more troops were called in, sources said.
They added that the soldiers exchanged blows with each other besides pelting stones in which some of them were injured.
“There was aggressive behaviour and minor injuries on both sides. Both sets of soldiers disengaged after local level interaction and dialogue. The issue was solved through established protocols for such issues,” a source in the Army Headquarters here said.