Face-off Worsens In Ladakh As More Troops Arrive

20 September 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Ajay Banerjee

New Delhi: The ongoing face-off between India and China at Chumar in south-eastern Ladakh has intensified with the addition of more gun-toting troops, which are now strung across 2 km on an east-to-west axis on either side of the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC). As per the agreement arrived at, the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China have been maintaining a minimum distance some 400 to 600 metres since Wednesday. This is to avoid any untoward incident as troops on either side are carrying weapons. As of now, there are two face-off points, one in Chumar and another 70 km east to it in Demchok. Earlier, PLA troops were in two locations at Chumar, but with the addition of more men the arch of PLA troops-held positions has widened and merged the locations. The Indian Army has matched the deployment and extended its own arch of troops to stall the Chinese. The stand-off is over the control of access to a 14,600-ft-high mountain pass named '30-R' post in Chumar. India holds the pass on its side. The PLA is a few kilometres short and has been building a road but struggling due to the terrain. India has protested saying the road falls in disputed areas of the LAC where both sides have agreed not to build any structures till the boundary dispute is resolved. India's control over '30-R' means the Army can maintain a vigil on any Chinese activity. Both sides claim the area as their own. Eastern Ladakh abuts Tibet and the boundaries are not demarcated despite attempts, first made by the British in 1846 and followed up with periodic ones till 1914. In the past decade, Special Representatives of India and China have been discussing the matters. Sources said the dispute at the LAC was raising doubts in New Delhi as Chinese President Xi Jinping, during the talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had given out a figure of some 400 intrusions by the Indian Army into China, when Modi and his team raised the matter during the talks. The Army's Kiari-based 70 Brigade, manning Chumar and Demchok, has been advised by the New Delhi-based Army headquarters to hold its existing positions on the pass and around it till the PLA does not withdraw from its positions across the LAC in its own areas of Chepzi (Zhipuqi-Quebusi). Xi points out 400 intrusions by India: The LAC dispute is 'raising doubts' in Delhi as Chinese President Xi Jinping has given out a figure of 400 intrusions by the Indian Army into China, when PM Narendra Modi raised the incursion issue. As the arch of PLA-held positions has widened at Chumar, India has matched the deployment to stall the Chinese.