Indian, Chinese troops face off in Ladakh over irrigation canal

04 November 2016

Indian and Chinese troops are in a stand-off since Wednesday in Ladakh's Demchok area as the People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops have entered an area near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and have stopped the construction work on an irrigation canal.

Government sources said on Thursday that the local administration is constructing an irrigation canal under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) to link a village with the 'hot spring' in Demchok, 250 km east of Leh.

Officials said that around 55 Chinese troops arrived at the scene and halted the work in an aggressive manner, prompting the Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel to rush to the spot to stop the high-handedness of Chinese troops.

The Chinese troops took positions on the perceived Line of Actual Control (LAC) and demanded that work be stopped as either side needs to take permission before undertaking any work, a claim disputed by the Indian side which says that as per the agreement between the two countries, information about construction needs to be shared only if it is meant for defence purposes.

Both sides pulled out banners and have been stationed on the ground, sources said, adding the Army and ITBP was not allowing the Chinese to move an inch ahead despite the PLA claiming that the area belonged to China.

The area had witnessed a similar incident in 2014 after it was decided to construct a small irrigation canal at Nilung Nalla under the MNREGA scheme that had been a sore point with the Chinese.

The PLA had mobilised villagers from Tashigong to pitch rebos (tents) at Charding-Ninglung Nallah (CNN) Track Junction to protest Indian action.

This time, reports said, there were 55 personnel from the Chinese PLA, while nearly 70 personnel from ITBP and Army had fortified the area and prevented their march deeper into Indian territory.

The 'hot spring' is different from the one in Chashool which police day is observed in memory of 10 Central Reserve Police Force men killed in 1959 by Chinese troops.

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