Indian villagers were threatened in Demchok and forced to vacate grazing grounds
Days before a violent scuffle at Pangong lake left Indian and Chinese troops injured, a Chinese border patrol tore down tents and threatened Indian herders in the sensitive Demchok area of Ladakh, leading to strong protests from locals.
ThePrint has learnt that Indian villagers who had gone with cattle to grazing grounds near the Nelung Nala were confronted by a Chinese border patrol on 8 August and threatened with dire consequences if they returned.
While there is no evidence yet of Chinese troops occupying the area, the incident took place at a spot where Indian and Chinese troops faced off in September 2014, when President Xi Jingping was visiting India.
The aggressive behaviour by Chinese troops on 8 August led to a strong protest and complaints to the administration that has also taken up the matter with security forces responsible for the area. Both the Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police are deployed in Demchok, which is a border flashpoint between India and China.
Sources told ThePrint that a 3 km area that has traditionally been used by the Indian side to graze cattle has been cut off with villagers unwilling to go back in fear of a crackdown by Chinese troops. Demchok has seen a series of confrontations with Chinese authorities lately with objections being raised even over the construction of a hospital on the Indian controlled side.
Indian government officials declined to comment on the incident.
In November 2016, Chinese troops marched in to stop work on an irrigation canal that was being built under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The ITPB had to be deployed to push back Chinese troops who had halted work by threatening Indian workers.
In 2014, similar aggression was seen by Chinese troops in Demchok during Xi Jingping’s visit, although the larger standoff took place in Chumar where nearly a thousand troops from each side were involved in a face-off that was resolved through dialogue.
Meanwhile, on the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction, troops remain deployed in a tense faceoff that has lasted over two months. Officials say that there has been no change of position at Doklam with 300 odd troops from India and China engaged in a confrontation over the construction of a road by the Chinese side on disputed land that is claimed by Bhutan.
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