Amid a fresh round of border mechanism talks between Indian and Chinese diplomats on Tuesday, some 21 PLA troops crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) into India in Barahoti Plains area of Uttarakhand, top government sources said.
While the exact number of PLA troopers could not be ascertained due to poor visibility, the Chinese soldiers moved back to their original positions after staying across LAC for more than an hour. This was the third straight intrusion this month apart from a face-off in Chumar on July 16-17, and another one on July 12-13 in Arunachal Pradesh.
India is particularly concerned about the increased intrusions as the Chinese leadership wants the boundary resolution exercise to be accelerated but there is no let up in PLA emphasising on their territorial claims.
The latest incursion took place just before joint secretary (East Asia) Guatam Bambawalla meet Chinese delegation headed by director general (Boundary Affairs) Ouyang Yujing to define steps to make the LAC stable.
The two-day talks ended on Wednesday.
The incursion has led to serious concerns within the government even though Chinese soldiers are not showing any aggressive intent.
“Normally, incursions are confined to Eastern Ladakh (Western) and Arunachal Pradesh (Eastern) with stray transgressions being noticed in Barahoti Plains (Middle sector) around August 15 each year. Yesterday’s intrusion was unusual in that context,” said a senior official.
While the two sides under the umbrella border mechanism are currently negotiating opening up of Kibuthu in Arunachal Pradesh as another site for holding Border Personnel Meetings, the latest incursion will make both sides look for a BPM site in Middle Sector too.
Earlier, India had proposed Lipulekh Pass as a BPM site but the idea was dropped as it involves an arduous trek. Both sides are also negotiating for a hot line between Indian DGMO and PLA headquarters in Beijing.
India takes up incursions issue
The recent incidents of incursions by Chinese troops into India figured in the talks between the two countries, with both sides discussing ways to make the functioning of working mechanisms on border affairs more efficient.
At the two-day official-level talks, the teams discussed ways to maintain peace along the LAC.
“The delegations reviewed recent developments in the India-China border areas,” MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said at the conclusion of the third round of meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs.
This was the first such meeting since the three-week standoff in April at Depsang Valley in Ladakh.