HP tribal villages tense after Indo-China border buildup
The hum of Chinese choppers is growing louder and more and more Indian Army vehicles are passing by. The border villages in tribal Lahaul Spiti and Kinnaur districts in Himachal Pradesh are now tense over the last few days after the buildup of Indian and Chinese forces on the Line of Actual Control. Twenty Indian Army personnel were killed in violent clashes in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on the night of June 15-16.
The Army and the Indo Tibetan Border police have restricted the movement of shepherds in the high hills even as additional Army units are being moved to the mountainous terrain along the international border, say local villagers. Armoured vehicles can be seen now at Sumdo, the junction between Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur.
China’s People’s Liberation Army is also reportedly increasing its activities along the villages bordering HP. Units have been deployed at Shipki La village and in Tunzuk, a small town on the border .
Old timers say this is the first time since the 1962 Indo-China war that they have seen such a buildup of the armies of the two nations, reveals Norbu Shoiya, former panchayat pradhan of Namgia village, located just 10 km from the Chinese border. “We are scared. It’s a war like situation . We hope it does not happen and that both countries resolve their issues. In case war breaks out we will have to vacate the villages,” he adds.
People here are struggling for normalcy after the Covid-19 outbreak too. “Villagers in the border areas have already suffered because of the Covid-19 lockdown. The local business community has been dealt a hard blow. We are only praying that there should not be a war,” says Hishey Negi, president, Kinnaur Indo-China Trade Association.
Namgia is also a trading point for cross-border trade with China through the Shipki La pass. The annual trade that usually commences in mid -June this year has been put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops.
There are nearly half a dozen villages including Shalkar, Tashigang, Pooh, and Dubling located within 10 kilometers of the China border. The villagers say that they can hear Chinese helicopters across the border. “ We have heard that Chinese troops have put up more tents just below our village” says Karma Nyima, pradhan of Shipki La village .
Police have also put its state unit on the alert. Local villagers have been asked to share information on the Chinese buildup.
Himachal shares about 260 km of a porous border with China, of which 180 km is in Kinnaur while 80 km is in Lahaul and Spiti districts .
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- In the Haryana districts of Rohtak, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad, Bhiwani and Dadri, villages emptied out as farmers drove to Delhi in tractors-trailers, cars, SUVs and motorbikes.
- Rajaona was convicted over the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in August 1995.