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Chinese troops enter Uttarakhand's Chamoli district

28 July 2016

Armed personnel of the China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) transgressed into the `Barahoti' area in the border district of Chamoli, in Uttarakhand, on Wednesday, breaking an agreement with India to keep the area demilitarised.

The transgressers were apprehended by a team led by Chamoli district magistrate and other officials from Indo-Tibetan Border Police force (ITBP) who were on a routine visit to a grazing ground in the hill state's border district on 22 July, when they ran into Chinese troops who asked them to go back.

''We also told them to go back. It went on for around half an hour,'' said a home ministry official on condition of anonymity.

Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat said the development is "something to worry about".

Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju said that ITBP had been asked to look into the matter.

Barahoti, which is spread across 80 in Chamoli, is a disputed territory between India and China. However, both countries have agreed to keep their militaries away from the area as there is no agreement on the border.

The incident, which took place on 19 July after China warned India of serious consequences of the expulsion of three Chinese scribes from India, is seen as a serious issue by the state government and the centre.

This is not the first transgression into Uttarkhand by Chinese troops. Vijay Bahuguna, the former chief minister of Uttarakhand, cited 37 instances of transgression that had been noted in the area between 2007 and 2011.

Chinese troops had made a "temporary transgression", into Arunachal Pradesh on 9 July 2013 when around 250 soldiers of the PLA entered Arunachal Pradesh's east district of Kameng. That was when Beijing was staunchly opposed to India's bid for the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership.

Earlier in April that year, Manohar Parrikar visited China and discussed issues of strategy and the implementation of agreements to reduce tensions.

In June 2016, a scuffle broke out between soldiers of the Indian Army and the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), when 276 Chinese personnel entered India from four different border points in Arunachal Pradesh. The incident took place at 'Shankar Tikri' on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) of the Yangtse area in Arunachal Pradesh, with the PLA claiming the area belonged to China.

The opposition Congress, Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress today raised in the Lok Sabha the issue of Chinese incursion along the Uttarakhand border earlier this month.

Raising the issue during zero hour, Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress said the Chinese troops had come around 200 metres into Indian territory.

"There were reports that the Chinese troops had also misbehaved with the local revenue department official in the area," the Congress lawmaker alleged.

Scindia said this was not one of a kind incident as such incursions were also reported in Uttarakhand in 2014.

Moreover, Chinese troops have also previously tried to cross over to the Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh, he pointed out.

Supporting the concern of the Congress member, Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy demanded a statement by the home minister or the defence minister.

Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav said the Indian government needed to be more careful and cautious about China's intentions.

"I have always cautioned about China," he said.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Uttarakhand MP BS Koshiyari also said that the matter was "serious".

However, he insisted that it would not be proper to blame only the central government if at all such incursions had taken place.

"The local state government too has its role on these matters," he said.

"Chinese people do come to the border areas from time to time but they go back when confronted by Indian security personnel," Koshiyari added.

Responding to the agitated members, parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar said the government is firm that "it will not spare any action" to protect the country's international borders.

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