Chinese army breached LAC in Uttarakhand last week

Soldiers of China People's Liberation Army crossed the Line of Actual Control into Barahoti, Uttarakhand, at 9 am on 25 July and went back after they were halted by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police

Shaswati Das
Updated1 Aug 2017, 05:01 AM IST
A 2012 image of Indian Army at Bumla pass at the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh. Photo: AFP
A 2012 image of Indian Army at Bumla pass at the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh. Photo: AFP

New Delhi: With tensions running high at the Doklam plateau in Bhutan, around 50 Chinese soldiers breached the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Uttarakhand’s Barahoti region last week, senior government officials confirmed on Monday.

The troops crossed over into Barahoti at 9 am on 25 July and went back after they were halted by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

The officials however downplayed the incursion, saying it was accidental, even though the breach took place just before National Security Adviser Ajit Doval’s visit to Beijing on 29 July.

“The LAC is blurry on that side. So there is not a lot of clarity unlike the Line of Control (LoC) as to which side the troops of either side should stay on. This was one such accidental breach. There was no adverse reaction and the Chinese troops went back after they were halted,” said a senior government official, requesting anonymity.

With Doklam standoff at the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction showing no signs of ending, the officials said the steadily building Chinese pressure reflected China’s internal politics.

“Xi Jinping is one of the strongest leaders China has had since Chairman Mao. This is typically reflective of a power struggle between the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the polity in China, with the polity trying to dictate terms to the military as far as India is concerned,” the official stated.

Even though China has often stated that it has no stake in Kashmir, intelligence officials stated that “diversions” such as the one in Uttarakhand and the ongoing proxy war in Kashmir play a pivotal role in China’s scheme.

“It works in China’s interests if it steps up pressure on Pakistan to launch the continual offensive along the LoC as they have been doing all summer by way of ceasefire violations. They (China) may claim to not have a stake in Kashmir, but it works in their interest if India’s western front is volatile,” said a senior intelligence official, requesting anonymity.

This episode comes just two weeks after the Chinese army was filmed practising military drills and testing rocket launchers, according to footage released by a Chinese news channel.

Defence experts stated that while India and Pakistan would continue with trans-border attacks, both India and China were just trying to assert their domination over the other.

“Both sides are being offensive now. It is now a question of domination and competitive conflict. India refuses to accept Chinese hegemony and China is trying to embarrass India through Bhutan,” said H.S. Panag, a former Indian Army officer and defence expert.

Other experts however added that while the Doklam standoff was likely to ease by the onset of winter, such incursions were executed merely to test India’s resilience.

“China is trying to find a way out of the mess at Doklam and it is struggling because of its aggressive posturing. These incursions are China’s way of testing us by putting immense pressure. They are jittery because we are silent on the matter and that is now taking a toll,” said Gaurav Arya, former Indian Army officer and defence expert.

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First Published:1 Aug 2017, 05:01 AM IST
HomePoliticsPolicyChinese army breached LAC in Uttarakhand last week

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