While no clashes were reported, China has accused India of undermining the consensus reached earlier
It is worrying that this is a new area where the Chinese troops tried to enter Indian territory
NEW DELHI :
The Indian Army on Monday said it had over the weekend thwarted fresh attempts by Chinese soldiers to intrude into Indian territory along the Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh, exacerbating tensions that have been running high since May.
The spike in tensions seems to be the most serious since 15 June when 20 Indian Army personnel and an unknown number of Chinese troops were killed in a clash in the Galwan Valley area of eastern Ladakh. It is also worrying as this is a new area where the Chinese troops have tried to enter Indian territory, a move aimed at stoking tensions, according to analysts.
Ties between the two countries, riven by distrust, have frayed further after the intrusions, with both countries amassing troops along their common borders in Ladakh. The Indian Army is also maintaining a tight vigil across the entire 3,488km stretch of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
China seems to be building a heliport in close proximity to two new air defence positions covering sensitive stretches of the LAC in Sikkim and along the India-China-Bhutan borders, according to satellite pictures posted on the internet by Open Source Intelligence.
Over the weekend, there was no clash between the two sides on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso lake. About 25 soldiers of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) tried to enter Indian territory on the banks of the lake in the Chushul area and were blocked by Indian soldiers, a person familiar with the matter said.
The Indian Army said that late Saturday, PLA soldiers “violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo". The reference was to a consensus reached in a number of military and diplomatic talks to disengage and de-escalate since early May when the first intrusions into Indian territory came to light.
“Indian troops pre-empted this PLA activity on the southern bank of Pangong Tso Lake, undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground," the Army said.
“The Indian Army is committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity through dialogue, but is also equally determined to protect its territorial integrity. A brigade commander-level flag meeting is in progress at Chushul to resolve the issues," it said.
Soon after, the Indian Army moved additional troops to the area given that some 100 Chinese soldiers were seen on their side of the LAC, said the person mentioned above.
Meanwhile, China on Monday accused India of undermining the consensus reached earlier. In a statement, the PLA’s Western Theatre Command said it was Indian troops who “violated the consensus reached at the multi-level talks between India and China and again crossed the LAC at the border on Monday and purposely launched provocations".
“China strongly opposes the acts and urges India to immediately withdraw the troops that have illegally crossed the LAC," the statement said.
The fresh tensions come as Indian foreign and defence ministers were to travel to Russia for meetings of the China-Russia dominated Shanghai Cooperation Organization with speculation rife over whether the two ministers would meet their Chinese counterparts.