Senior Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) officers have denied reports of a Chinese incursion into India across the border with Uttarakhand, but ‘exchanges’ between the two countries in parts of the 350-km-long boundary the state shares with China has been a ‘common practice’ for years.
ITBP Deputy Inspector General Sanjay Singhal said on Sunday there has been no Chinese incursion in the recent past.
But senior police officers and Chamoli district locals say ‘exchanges’ do take place between troops from both countries around this time of the year. The border areas of Chamoli district are about 400 km northeast of Dehradun.
“Every year around August-September some Chinese activity is seen near the border,” Uttarakhand DGP Subhash Joshi told Hindustan Times.
He said Chinese troops come on horses to the uninhabited areas and leave behind some products on the Chinese side to mark territory. Similar activity is also witnessed on the Indian side with soldiers throwing Indian products in areas close to the border.
Times Now channel reported on Sunday that some Chinese troops had entered the Rimkhim area in Chamoli district on September 5 and left behind China-made biscuits and cigarettes.
Joshi, however, denied any such incident having taken place.
“The Chinese generally stay for around an hour and leave. They do so to make their presence felt. Whenever such activity is noted, personnel from the ITBP post nearby inform us and we keep a proper record. But we don’t have any intimation of any recent activity in the area.”
Senior journalist Kranti Bhatt, who has travelled to the border areas over the past five years, said there have been nine instances of Chinese troops reaching areas near the border.
“Senior ITBP officials and local shepherds say Chinese Army personnel have been seen visiting areas close to the border six times since 2004. But they have never tried to enter...and the alertness of Indian security personnel has ensured that they left quietly. Security personnel see this as usual activity,” Bhatt said.
At last month’s meeting on internal security in Delhi, Uttarakhand CM Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank had sought a Hill Security Force on the pattern of coast guards to protect the border in the state.