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New Delhi: Just days before the next round of Corps Commander-level talks between India and China are to take place in eastern Ladakh to diffuse the ongoing border stand-off, reports of a minor clash between the troops of the two countries in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh has come to light.
According to a New18 report, the incident took place this week near the border pass between Bum-La and Yangtse area of Tawang, located close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The report, quoting “highly placed sources in the government”, said around a 200-strong group of Chinese soldiers crossed over to the Indian side, came face to face with an Indian patrolling unit and “attempted to damage unoccupied bunkers”. It said, “The Chinese patrol party’s transgression into the Indian side of the LAC was strongly contested by Indian troops and a few Chinese soldiers were temporarily detained.”
The sources added, “The matter was subsequently resolved at the local military commanders’ level. The Chinese soldiers were released and the situation defused.”
Such instances of coming face to face with Chinese troops are not new though as the perception of the LAC differs between the two countries, leading to the longstanding border dispute. The disputed areas are patrolled by the armies of both the countries. These instances are resolved at the local level as per established protocol. According to a report, last week’s incident at the Tawang sector took place after a long while. The last incident was reported in this sector in 2016.
This week, news had also come about a similar incident during patrolling by the two armies in Uttarakhand’s Barahoti sector close to the LAC. Reports had stated that the Chinese troops retreated after spending a few hours on the Indian side.
India and China have been engaging in core commander-level talks since this September 2020 to sort out the border impasse in eastern Ladakh that had occurred since May 2020.
Multiple rounds of talks have taken place thus far. Though the date for the next round of talks is not declared yet, a PTI report, quoting sources, said, “The Corps Commander level talks are to take place within the next three-four days.”
For some time now, local political leaders from Arunachal Pradesh have also been highlighting intrusion of Chinese troops in the northeastern state. In January, former Arunachal BJP president and now a Lok Sabha MP from the party, Tapir Gao, reacting to the news of China allegedly establishing a village on the banks of River Tsari Chu in Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal, had claimed that the Chinese had been occupying that area “since the 1980s and construction of villages is not a new thing.”
In August, former Lok Sabha MP and state Congress leader Ninong Ering had also spoken about Chinese army “trying to recruit youths from Tibet as well as Arunachal” and expressed concern at it, requesting the ministries of defence and home to stem it.
Lately, the Indian government had taken an interest in building road infrastructure, particularly in the Yangste area of Tawang where the latest report of the transgression was reported. The government’s action is said to encourage religious and cultural tourism. According to a news report, in 2020, the Arunachal government and the Indian Army had sought to develop the Yangste area, particularly the Tsechu village close to the LAC where the Chumi Gyatse falls, revered by the local Buddhist Monpa tribe, are situated. Those rows of falls are barely 250 metres from the LAC. Defence sources had then said that the Chinese were keeping an eye on the Indian government’s infrastructure development in the area by “placing a surveillance camera, a projector and a large screen at the border overlooking the (Chumi Gyatse) falls to get live images.”