Often peaceful, vigil increased along China border

In the wake of reports of Chinese incursions in Ladakh, vigil along the China border in Himachal Pradesh has been stepped up.

Taking precautionary measures, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police force - manning the Indian border along China - has beefed up security, while military formations in tribal Kinnaur district is keeping a close tab on the situation.

Himachal Pradesh shares 260 km of the porous borders with China. Of the total border length, 140 km is along tribal Kinnaur district, while 80 km of border falls in tribal Lahaul and Spiti district.

Three battalions of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) are guarding the border with China. In total, there are 20 ITBP posts along the border. The sensitive post includes Kaurik - it's the last village situated beyond Sumdoh.

The ITBP posts are situated in Lakuma, Morrang, Morni, Dogri, Rishi Dogri, Domti and Niltahla pass. Though the troops along the border are asked to keep strict vigil, ITBP officials refused to comment on any issues related to the border. “The matter is sensitive. I cannot reveal anything,” deputy inspector general, ITBP, Sanjay Chaudhary said.

Barring instance of isolated air space intrusion along the border areas by Chinese choppers, the region has otherwise remained peaceful.

A year ago, two Chinese choppers intruded into the Indian territory in Kaurik sector, while locals often complained about sighting Chinese choppers along the Indian border.

Air intrusion had raised concern for the Himachal Pradesh government. The then chief minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal, had stressed the need for developing the infrastructure along the Indian border. There are reports that the Chinese army was gradually building up its infrastructure along the Indian border, which did not witness any intrusion even at time of Chinese aggression in 1962.

A defense analyst maintains that tough terrain and high passes forbids the troops along the border to intrude the border.  The main passes between China and India in Himachal Pradesh includes the Khimokul Pass and Simthong Pass, located ahead of the Trungla valley, which crosses into China-occupied Tibet.

Similarly, the 5,280-m-high Rangio La and 5,320 Keobrangla pass situated ahead of Nesang valley lead to Tibet.

Yamrangla - situated at the height of 5,570 m - is the highest mountain pass. The 5,200-m-high Shipki La pass is the most famous pass between the India-China border.

Shiplki La Pass is used for the cross-border trade between two countries. The trade route was closed after the Chinese aggression in 1962, but was reopened after India and China signed a protocol in 1994. The trade between the two countries restarted in 1994.

Thought the porous border has not witnessed any intrusion, the cross border smuggling of goods has often been reported.

Once the porous borders were used to smuggle red sanders - a wood used in traditional medicines - into China.


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