Reports of Chinese incursions in the Ladakh area of Jammu and Kashmir, which are now being highlighted by the media, are in fact as old as January 2009, according to an official communication sent that month by the district magistrate of Leh to his superiors in the state.
According to the contents of a letter sent by Ajeet Kumar Sahu, district magistrate of Leh, to the divisional commissioner of Kashmir on January 4 this year, shepherds and villagers living close to the international border had brought reports of incursions by the Chinese army into the Indian Territory to his notice.
The district magistrate had then deputed a sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) to verify the reports. The SDM had confirmed that personnel of the Chinese army had warned shepherds on the Indian side of the border to vacate the area or face the consequences.
Alarmingly, the villagers and shepherds had said that the Chinese army had not even said that the area where the shepherds had been grazing their flock of sheep was disputed.
"They claimed the area belonged to China," the district magistrate's letter said.
But defence officials here have still not confirmed the fears voiced by the district magistrate.
The fact that some patrols of the Chinese army had entered the Indian side of the border in Leh and painted some stones and rocks red is being accepted by sources in the army, but no senior defence official is prepared to go on record to confirm the incident.