China retreats, shepherds back | india | Hindustan Times
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China retreats, shepherds back

india Updated: Jan 16, 2010 09:01 IST
Arun Joshi
Arun Joshi
Hindustan Times

Indian shepherds are back in the Shakgung pasturelands along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) from where they had been driven out by Chinese troops last winter. See popup

The strategically important area near Demchok, 300 km east of Leh, is back in Indian hands.

More than 300 families of grazers have reached the pasture, which is 25-30 km long and 3-13 km broad, with 30,000 livestock — mostly Pashmina goats, yaks and horses — and pitched their tents for more than two weeks, after the Indian army convinced its Chinese counterpart to withdraw.

“Our shepherds are there and there have been no problems so far,” Chering Dorjay, chief executive councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Devel-opment Council, told Hindustan Times over the phone from Leh.

In December 2008, Chinese troops had assaulted the Indian shepherds.

The troops burnt their provisions, uprooted their tents and told them not to return. More recently, Chinese army had, last month, stopped Indian authorities from constructing a road in Demchok under NREGA.

The Indus is considered the LAC in the area. Over the years, the river has changed course, pushing into India, by 500-1,500 metres every year, thus allowing the Chinese side to claim large swathes of territory on its side of the river.

But this time, the Indian side convinced the Chinese — at a series of border management meetings — to recognise the original course of the river.

“The incident of December 2008 was strongly raised and repeatedly asserted during the flag meetings held in January 2009,” said Brig. G. Murali of the Northern Command.