Indian and Chinese troops clashed briefly but without any exchange of fire in a disputed area of the Himalayas, officials said today, exacerbating tensions amid the stand-off between the two armies at Doklam that has lasted over two months now.
Chinese troops threw stones at Indian soldiers near Pangong Lake, a major tourist attraction in the picturesque region of Ladakh, on Tuesday, an Indian defence official said.
He said Chinese soldiers had twice tried to enter Indian territory but had been pushed back. "There was a minor incident. There was some stone pelting from the Chinese side but the situation was quickly brought under control," he told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The brief confrontation was resolved after Indian and Chinese sides retreated to their respective positions, he added.
Personnel from both sides received minor injuries and the situation was brought under control after the customary banner drill under which both sides hold banners before stepping back to their respective positions, PTI reported.
An army spokesman in New Delhi declined to comment on the incident which came amid the continued stand-off between the two armies at Doklam or Doka La in Sikkim. Chinese troops had managed to enter up to Finger Four area in the region of Ladakh from where they were sent back.
The Pangong lake area lies over 4,000 metres high on the Tibetan plateau. This area has been a bone of contention between India and China as both claim it to be a part of their territory.
When the Indian side staked a claim to the area during negotiations in late 1990s, the Chinese army constructed a metal-top road and insisted it was part of Aksai Chin, which is under the latter's control, officials said. China had constructed a road up to Finger Four which falls under Siri Jap area, and is five km inside the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Earlier, the Chinese patrols used to come frequently from the northern and southern banks of this lake, a 45-km stretch of which is on the Indian side while 90 km is on the Chinese side.
Police in Jammu and Kashmir said clashes were relatively common along the de facto border known as the LAC. "These things happen every summer but this one was slightly prolonged and more serious but no weapons were used," a police source in Srinagar told AFP.
The latest incident comes amid an ongoing dispute between the two sides over a strategic Himalayan plateau thousands of kilometres away where hundreds of Indian and Chinese soldiers have been facing off against each other for more than two months.
The border trouble began in June when Chinese soldiers started to extend a road through the territory variously known as Doklam, Doka La or in Chinese, Donglang. The area is disputed between China and Bhutan. India, a close ally of Bhutan, then deployed troops to stop the construction project, prompting Beijing to accuse India of trespassing on Chinese soil.
A ceremonial Border Personnel Meeting on the Indian Independence Day was also not held this time as the Chinese side did not respond to a communication from the Indian side, according to IANS. It was the first time since 2005 that the meetings were not held. However, there were reports of troops from both sides exchanging sweets on the occasion on Tuesday.