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Video shows brawl at border, clip not authentic, says army

PUBLISHED ON MAY 31, 2020 11:58 PM IST

NEW DELHI An undated video and a photograph that purportedly capture violent scraps between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh surfaced on social media on Sunday, bringing the border feud along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) into sharp focus.

The army said the visuals were “not authenticated” and linking them with the border situation was “mala fide.”

While the two-minute-45 second video, seen by Hindustan Times, ostensibly shows a brawl between troops of the two countries on the banks of Pangong Tso in which the Indian side is dominant, the photograph shows injured and bleeding Indian soldiers at the receiving end of Chinese aggression.

The photograph, which also appears to be taken on the banks of Pangong Tso lake, shows Indian soldiers bound with ropes by the Chinese. It found its way into the social media after the video came out — a clear indication, analyst said, of wanting to own the narrative.

Pangong Tso has been at the centre of a weeks-long border standoff between India and China that threatens to plunge the bilateral relationship to a new low.

The Indian Army on Sunday said the contents of the video (and the photograph itself), were “not authenticated”, and any attempt to link it with the situation on the northern borders was “mala fide.”

The video and photograph have come out at a time when India and China are talking to each other at military and diplomatic levels to resolve the standoff. Experts said the visuals had surfaced at a critical juncture and could potentially complicate the discussions.

In a statement issued on Sunday morning, army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand said, “It has been brought to our notice that a video is doing the rounds in social media on an incident on the borders…Currently, no violence is happening”.

He said differences were being addressed through interaction between military commanders, guided by established protocols on management of borders between the two countries.

The video shows furious Indian soldiers and Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel chasing away Chinese troops who appear to have left their vehicle, a Humvee knockoff, behind. In the video, a Chinese soldier is seen lying on the ground bleeding from his head, while an Indian soldier covers him with a shield to avoid further injuries in the midst of the violent confrontation.

“It is important for local commanders on both sides to ensure passions do not run out of control. Things can’t be allowed to go from bad to worse,” said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (retd).

Military commanders have been talking almost daily to break the stalemate. Soldiers of the two countries are eyeball-to-eyeball at four locations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh including Pangong Tso.

Anand said the army strongly condemned attempts to sensationalise issues impacting national security. “The media is requested not to air visuals that are likely to vitiate the current situation on the borders,” he added.

China has marshalled close to 5,000 soldiers and deployed tanks and artillery guns on its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh sector where India has also sent military reinforcements and matched the neighbour’s military moves, as reported by Hindustan Times on May 26.

Several rounds of talks between local military commanders have failed to end the standoff that began with a confrontation between rival patrols on May 5-6 near Pangong Tso that left scores of soldiers from both sides injured. China’s state-run media has described the latest tensions as the worst since the 2017 Doklam standoff that lasted 73 days.

Chinese troops are holding positions on their side of the border in north Sikkim where soldiers of the two countries were involved in a tense confrontation on May 9 that left seven Chinese and four Indian soldiers injured, as first reported by Hindustan Times.

This is not the first time such a video has come out. A video had surfaced in August 2017 purportedly showing Indian and Chinese soldiers throwing stones at each other and exchanging blows near Pangong Tso.

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