The Indian army has moved an infantry regiment specialising in mountain warfare to Ladakh’s Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector where the Chinese army has intruded into Indian territory and set up a tent post. The ITBP has also pitched a tent post just across from the one erected by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), after it intruded 10km inside Indian territory on April 15.
The Indian government is playing down the intrusion with external affairs minister Salman Khurshid saying flag meetings were being held, but sources in the ministry of defence revealed that the situation was tense.
The two sides are caught in a bitter face-off with the Chinese refusing to retreat, claiming the territory to be theirs. In a deep incursion, a platoon strength of the Chinese army, comprising 50 men have entrenched themselves in eastern Ladakh at a height of nearly 17,000 feet.
In the past too, the PLA has intruded into Indian territory across the line of actual control (LAC), not very well demarcated at many places.
In 2011, members of the PLA landed in Ladakh in a helicopter and broke a few bunkers before retreating but this is the first time the stand-off has continued for a week.
A senior defence ministry official confirmed to HT that the intrusions have increased over the past few months because India has moved its tanks into high-altitude areas of Ladakh and even deployed heavy armoury. Recently, India also reactivated the advanced landing ground (ALG) for troop replenishment.
“Our troops are patrolling the Chinese side of the LAC and have not trespassed the line,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in Beijing, adding, “China is willing to solve the boundary question through peaceful negotiations.”
In Delhi, an effort is being made to contain the confrontation especially since the new Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to visit India. For now, Delhi is working the phone lines – a line of communication agreed upon under the recently set up Mechanism on Coordination and Consultation on Border Affairs.