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Tuesday, Sep 24, 2019

Stand-off between India, China resolved after talks

The face-off began when soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army objected to the presence of an Indian Army patrol along the lake’s northern border, leading to heated arguments and a scuffle between the two sides, said one of the officers cited above.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2019 01:42 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
New Delhi/Beijing
External affairs ministry spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, told a regular news briefing there are existing mechanisms between the two sides to address such issues.
External affairs ministry spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, told a regular news briefing there are existing mechanisms between the two sides to address such issues. (HT image)
         

A face-off between Indian and Chinese troops near the bank of Pangong lake in the sensitive Ladakh sector was resolved after talks between local commanders in the area, two army officials said on Thursday on condition of anonymity.

The area is prone to face-offs as two-thirds of the lake is under Chinese control. The incident followed the postponement of both a round of border talks under the Special Representatives mechanism and the visit of a senior Indian Army general to China.

The face-off began when soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army objected to the presence of an Indian Army patrol along the lake’s northern border, leading to heated arguments and a scuffle between the two sides, said one of the officers cited above.

“Such incidents are not uncommon and patrolling parties from both sides do come face to face at times, as they have a differing perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC),” he said. Both sides backed off and the face-off ended on Wednesday after delegation-level talks led by officers of the rank of brigadier in-charge of the area.

In a brief but terse response to the incident, China’s foreign ministry said its border troops were patrolling areas under its “effective jurisdiction”.

“The areas mentioned in the relevant reports are entirely located in China, and China has been exercising effective jurisdiction,” the foreign ministry said in a statement in Mandarin.

“The Chinese border troops have always strictly followed the relevant agreements and consensus between China and India, carried out regular patrol activities on Chinese territory, and hoped that India and China would take no action to complicate the situation and ensure harmony and peace in the border areas of the two countries,” the statement said.

External affairs ministry spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, told a regular news briefing there are existing mechanisms between the two sides to address such issues. “It is also important to note how quickly the matter got resolved. Its means the mechanisms between India and China are working very well,” he said.

Beijing had reacted sharply when New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5 and reorganised the state into two union territories, including one comprising Ladakh.

“China has always opposed India’s inclusion of Chinese territory in India’s administrative jurisdiction in the western part of the Sino-Indian border. This position is firm, consistent and has never changed,” a statement posted on the foreign ministry’s website in August had said in a reference to the area in Ladakh that New Delhi claims but is controlled by Beijing.

The statement added that India should be “cautious” on the border issue, strictly abide by relevant agreements, and avoid actions that complicate the situation.

On September 5, Beijing confirmed that talks on the border issue under the Special Representatives mechanism had been postponed because of “India’s schedule”. China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, was expected to visit India in the second week of September for the 22nd round of talks on the long-standing dispute with National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval.

At the same time, the Indian Army’s Udhampur-based Northern Army commander, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, did not go ahead with a scheduled visit to China.

Experts, however, said there was nothing extraordinary about such face-offs.

“When 300-odd transgressions take place along the undefined LAC every year, at a certain point in time such stand-offs can happen. So long as such situations do not spin out of control, it’s not a matter of concern,” said former Northern Army commander, Lt Gen (retired) BS Jaswal.

The lake was in the news two years ago when Indian and Chinese troops threw stones at each other and exchanged blows. The skirmish happened after Indian troops asked Chinese soldiers to fall back when they crossed the LAC near the lake.

That clash aggravated tensions as it happened against the backdrop of a 73-day standoff in the disputed Doklam plateau close to Sikkim.

First Published: Sep 12, 2019 23:48 IST