Indian and Chinese troops were locked in a stand-off at the icy heights of Ladakh division since Wednesday after People’s Liberation Army personnel entered an area where an irrigation canal was being built under the MNREGA scheme and stopped the civilian work.
The incident took place on Wednesday afternoon in Demchok sector, located 250km east of Leh, where the work for linking a village with ‘hot spring’ was being undertaken under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA).
Around 55 Chinese troops arrived at the scene and halted the work in an aggressive manner, prompting the army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel to rush to the spot and stop the high-handedness of Chinese troops, an official source told PTI on Thursday.
NDTV, however, quoted Indian Army as saying there was no stand-off and that the “routine objections were being resolved”.
The Chinese troops took positions on the perceived Line of Actual Control (LAC) and demanded that work be stopped as either side needs to take permission before undertaking any work, a claim disputed by the Indian side which says that as per the agreement between the two countries, information about construction needs to be shared only if it was meant for defence purposes.
Both sides pulled out banners and have been stationed on the ground, the sources said, adding the Army and ITBP was not allowing the Chinese to move an inch ahead despite the PLA claiming that the area belonged to China.
The area had witnessed a similar incident in 2014 after it was decided to construct a small irrigation canal at Nilung Nalla under the MNREGA scheme that had been a sore point with the Chinese.
The PLA had mobilised villagers from Tashigong to pitch Rebos (tents) at Charding-Ninglung Nallah (CNN) Track Junction to protest Indian action.
This time, the sources said, there were 55 personnel from the Chinese PLA whereas nearly 70 personnel from ITBP and army had fortified the area and prevented their march deeper into Indian territory, the sources said.
The ‘Hot Spring’ is different from the one in Chashool where Police day is observed in memory of 10 CRPF men killed in 1959 by Chinese troops.