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Confusion over names delayed border row resolution

india Updated: May 23, 2013 10:52 IST
Rahul Singh

Confusion over the nomenclature of disputed sites in eastern Ladakh may have delayed the resolution of the three-week standoff between India and China in April. A report by the China Study Group (CSG) --- India's apex policy body on the Communist neighbour --- on the border crisis has identified multiple instances when the two countries were clueless about each other's concerns simply because agencies on both sides referred to the locations with different names.

A top government source revealed that China had voiced serious concerns over Indian infrastructure buildup and aggressive patrolling at "Zhipuji," shortly after an Indian military helicopter detected an incursion on April 16.

The Indian side was flummoxed --- they couldn't spot "Zhipuji" on their maps. It took days for Indian negotiators to figure out that "Zhipuji" was, in fact, Chumar in southeast Ladakh.

The Indian Army had indeed set up a temporary structure against a 30-foot rock face, which was eventually pulled down as a pre-condition to end the standoff on May 5.

"Zhipuji" wasn't the only location that required decoding.

The Chinese flatly denied their presence in the windswept Depsang Flats. "They insisted they had undertaken no patrols in Depsang," the source said. The Chinese could have been feigning ignorance, the source added.

It was only after India pinpointed the exact coordinates of the site that the Chinese acknowledged their presence in what they insisted was "Tianwan valley."

Chinese troops had taken up positions and pitched five tents - 19km inside Indian Territory - in April, triggering a diplomatic crisis between the two Asian giants. Chumar is located some 500 km from the faceoff site.