Chinese Copter Had Violated Airspace In J&K, Says Army Chief

31 August 2009
The Hindustan Times
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi

New Delhi: Army chief General Deepak Kapoor admitted on Monday that a Chinese military helicopter had violated Indian airspace in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh area on June 21. Earlier, the army chose to remain silent when reports of airspace violation by the Chinese army on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, about 600 km northeast of Sringar, first came in. This time too, he said the intrusion could have been due to “navigational error”. Gen Kapoor, who took over as the new chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee - which comprises the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force - said there had been several violations by the Chinese in recent months. While Gen Kapoor did not give exact the number of incursions reported this year, a senior defence ministry official, who refused to be identified, put the figure at 233 in 2008 and 76 during the past three months. Eastern Command chief Lt Gen V.K. Singh and chief of the Leh-based XIV Corps Lt Gen S.K. Singh, who are at present touring China, would raise the issue with the Chinese side, the defence ministry official told Hindustan Times. The Chinese embassy in Delhi, however, declined to comment on the incident. “We have no information about it. Moreover, your foreign ministry has already clarified the issue,” said a person in the press section of the Chinese embassy, refusing to identify himself. The External Affairs Ministry blamed the intrusions on the differences in perceptions of the LAC. “There is no mutually agreed LAC. We have proposed an early clarification, but the response from the Chinese side is still awaited,” a ministry official said. The issue of finalising the LAC is still hanging fire even after 13 meetings held by the two sides so far.