While the situation at the India-China border in Nathu La, Sikkim, has been relatively calm since the 73-day Doklam standoff ended on August 28, 2017, Beijing seems to be mounting a fresh challenge in Ladakh. Chinese soldiers are said to have made 14 incursions in Ladakh in August 2018, going in as far as 10-18 kilometres into the India territory.
According to a report by the Indo-Tibetan border police (ITBP), accessed by India Today, the Chinese troops trespassed across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh 14 times between August 4 and 19.
The incursions, on foot and vehicles, took place in the Daulat Beg Oldie, Depsang, Pangong Tso and Trig Heights areas. Of these, the Depsang region saw the highest number of incursion at six and the People’s Liberation Army troops travelled about 18 kilometres into the Indian territory, reported India Today.
The Depsang Plains incursions are said to have taken place on August 4, 12, 13, 17 and 19. Meanwhile, Chinese troops were at the Pangong Tso area on five different days.
It has also been said that the PLA pitched a few tents in the Daulat Beg Oldie area and were removed only after the Indian Army intervened into the matter. However, one tent reportedly remains in the region and China has argued that the tent doesn’t belong to them but to the shepherds of the area.
Strangely these incursions came at a time when India and China held the ceremonial Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) at two separate points in Eastern Ladakh in tune with India’s Independence Day. During these meetings, the two nations even pledged to maintain peace and keep up with the agreements signed by the two nations.
The Indian and Chinese troops also held a BPM on October 1, on the occasion of China’s National Day and it is believed the issue was discussed.
Earlier in August, another Chinese incursion was reported from the Demchok sector of eastern Ladakh, where soldiers are said to have intruded about 500 metres into the Indian side in July and even pitched about five tents in the area.
Sources told ANI that the Chinese soldiers crossed over to the Indian side pretending to be nomads grazing their cattle, but did not retreat even though the Indian Army conducted banner drills asking them to go back.
A few soldiers then went back with three of the tents only after the issue was raised with the nation and brigadier-level talks were held between the two armies.
Demchok is one of the “disputed and sensitive areas” along with 22 others at the LAC that stretches from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. The other areas in Ladakh are Trig Heights, Chumar, Spanggur Gap, Dumchele and Pangong Tso.
These areas witness Chinese transgressions quite often and on August 15, 2017, a major scuffle took place between the soldiers of the two countries along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.