Chinese troops recently entered a disputed stretch along the international border with India, Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat said on Wednesday, allegedly breaking a pact between the two countries to keep the area free from military build-up.
“This is a matter of concern. We have asked (the Centre) to increase vigilance,” Rawat told reporters in Dehradun, the capital of the Himalayan state which shares a 350-km-long border with China.
“Our border has been peaceful. I believe the government will take necessary cognizance.”
The alleged incursion took place on July 19 at Barahoti in Chamoli district, where a picture-postcard grazing ground set against the backdrop of Himalayan peaks form the international border.
Since 1957, both the countries recognise the 80-sq km grazing ground as “disputed” and agree on negotiations to settle the issue. Herders from both countries are, however, allowed to use the grazing ground.
Both countries also agreed to keep the area dimilitarised, unlike other disputed areas in Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh where thousands of soldiers stand guard on each side of what is known as the line of actual control (LAC).
Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said in Delhi the government has asked the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), which guards the 3488-km Sino-Indian border from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast, to look into the matter.
China lays claim to thousands of square kilometres of Indian territory, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh. The Communist giant had even attacked India in 1962 over the border dispute but ended the war unilaterally after intruding as far as Assam.
Officials said that in the latest incident, a group of Chamoli district officials – who had gone to grazing ground for a land survey – was sent back by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers “who suddenly appeared out of the mist” in the area Beijing refers to as ‘Wu-Je’.
Chamoli district magistrate Vinod Suman said he has filed an official report on the aborted visit by a team led by Yogender Singh, sub-divisional magisrate, Joshimath.
“I can’t divulge details. It is highly confidential,” Suman told HT.
However, the July 19 incident is not the first of its kind. There have been several instances of infiltration by Chinese soldiers in that part of the Indian territory in the past.
In 2013, then state chief minister Vijay Bahuguna had brought up the issue of Chinese violation of the international borders at Barahoti.
At a chief ministers’ meet on internal security held at Delhi, he tabled a report stating that Chinese had trespassed into Indian territory no less than 37 times between 2007 and 2012.
In 2014, too, there were reports of Chinese intrusion at Barahoti.
(With agency inputs)