India gears up for more 'shallow' Chinese incursions

17 August 2017

Indian armed forces are bracing for more "shallow intrusions" or "needling probes" from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), similar to the incident near Pangong Lake in Ladakh on Tuesday.

Such incursions and potential clashes are likely at vulnerable spots along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Himachal, Sikkim and Arunachal sectors. Lipulekh Pass and Barahoti in Himachal, and places in Uttarakhand may also see similar face-offs, according to reports citing sources in the Indian defence establishment.

This assessment comes even as the two forces held a border personnel meeting (BPM) in the Chushul area near Leh in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday, a day after Indian and Chinese soldiers pelted stones at each other near Pangong Lake.

In the next 3-4 days, more local level meetings are likely to take place between the two sides at different locations on the LaC.

The stone-throwing occurred on India's Independence Day when in practice Border Personnel Meetings (BPM) take place at five points across the LAC and sweets are exchanged between Indian and Chinese forces.

Scuffles are known to happen between troops along the border but throwing stones at each other is rare and unprecedented. Tuesday's scuffle at Pangong and stone throwing incident has been viewed seriously by both sides.

Sources aware of the Border Personnel Meeting at Chusul said both sides also discussed to put behind the Ladakh clash.

The incident came at a time when troops of both the nations have been on a continued stand-off at the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction in Doka La (Doklam).

Pangong incident
Indian border guards have said the Chinese soldiers attempted to enter Indian territory in two areas - Finger Four and Finger Five - twice between 6 am and 9 am on Tuesday but their attempts were thwarted by Indian troops.

After Chinese troopers found their path blocked by Indian soldiers who formed a human chain, they began hurling stones, prompting swift retaliation by Indian border guards.

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.

Chinese troops had managed to enter up to Finger Four area in the region from where they were sent back, news agency PTI reported. This area has been a bone of contention between India and China as both claim it to be a part of their territory.

Some of the Chinese soldiers carried iron rods and stones, and in the melee there were minor injuries on both sides, Reuters quoting sources in New Delhi said.

Indian troops till some years ago were at a huge disadvantage in the Pangong Lake, saddled with old patrol boats. There were even a few instances of faster and sturdier Chinese boats ramming into Indian ones to disable them. But after the Indian troops inducted 17 new high-speed interceptor boats, each of which can carry 16 to 18 soldiers, they have been conducting strong reconnaissance and area domination patrols in the region over the last few years.

Chinese denial
China said it is not aware of the reports of People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers entering Indian territory along the banks of the Pangong lake, as alleged by India.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hu Chunying said, "I am not aware of the information." She said the PLA troops always patrol along the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

"The Chinese side is committed to peace and tranquillity of the China-India border," she said. "We urge the Indian side abide by the LAC and relevant conventions between the two sides."

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