Chinese again barge into Indian territory, threaten shepherds

31 July 2017

Even as the Doklam standoff on the Sikkim border continues, Chinese troops are reported to have transgressed up to one kilometre into Indian territory in the Barahoti area of Uttarakhand's Chamoli district, threatening threatened shepherds grazing cattle.

The transgression took place on the morning of July 25 when a group of shepherds was asked to vacate the land by troops of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), according to media reports citing officials in the security establishment. By the time ITBP personnel reached the area, the Chinese soldiers had left,'' a security establishment officer said.There was no official word on the incident.

There was no official word about the incident, which comes in the backdrop of a prolonged standoff between Chinese and Indian troops at Doklam.

Barahoti, an 80 sq km sloping pasture about 140 km from the Uttarakhand capital Dehradun, is one of three border posts in what is known the 'middle sector', comprising Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

It is a demilitarised zone where the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and their chines counterparts do not take their weapons.

In 1958, India and China listed Barahoti as a disputed area where neither side would send their troops. In the 1962 war, the PLA did not enter the middle sector and focused on the western (Ladakh) and eastern (Arunachal Pradesh) sectors.

After the war, ITBP jawans would patrol the area with weapons in a non-combative manner - with the barrel of the gun facing down.

 During negotiations on resolving the border dispute, the Indian side unilaterally agreed in June 2000 that ITBP troops would not carry arms in three posts, Barahoti and Kauril and Shipki in Himachal Pradesh.

ITBP men go patrolling in civil dress and the Barahoti pasture sees Indian shepherds from border villages tending their sheep and people from Tibet bringing their yaks for grazing.

Barahoti has frequently hit headlines for Chinese transgression in the past. In July 2016 a similar incursion was reported when some civil administration officials visited the Barahoti area and found four or five armed PLA soldiers there with a vehicle. The soldiers raised their customary slogan of ''This is our land, go back,'' and the Indian officials retreated.

The Chinese soldiers had entered around 200 metres into the demilitarised zone of Barahoti through the Tun Jun La pass, but withdrew the same day.

Three days later, an air transgression by Chinese helicopters was reported in the same area (See: Chinese choppers violate Indian airspace, calls it routine patrolling).

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