Border standoff: India cancels media dialogue with China

Amidst the standoff in Chumar area of Ladakh, India on Monday decided to withdraw clearances for Chinese editors who were scheduled to arrive here this week for a media exchange with Indian journalists.

Border standoff: India cancels media dialogue with China

New Delhi: Amidst the standoff in Chumar area of Ladakh, India on Monday decided to withdraw clearances for Chinese editors who were scheduled to arrive here this week for a media exchange with Indian journalists.

The tough decision taken by the government led by Narendra Modi comes a day after Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) pitched seven tents well within the Indian territory. The Chinese troops are not showing any signs of withdrawing from the territory.

Think tank Observer Research Foundation, organiser of the event, said it just got a one-line fax stating that the clearances had been withdrawn.

"Due to unavoidable complications, we have had to postpone the India-China Media Exchange. We thank you all for agreeing to participate on Sep 24th -- and dinner -- and we will call on your participation again when we hold the event. But for now, it stands cancelled," the organisers told participating Indian journalists.

The Chinese troops, who had arrived in vehicles on Saturday in Chumar, 300 km from Leh, started erecting the tents in the Indian territory on Sunday despite repeated warnings by the Army to vacate the area, official sources said.

Nearly 100 personnel of the PLA strength was estimated around Point 30R, a strategically important post, as it helps India to keep a vigil deep inside the occupied territory of Chinese, they said.

This incursion was in addition to the 35-odd personnel who were already camping at a hillock in the Chumar area itself, the sources said.

The Chinese soldiers were demanding that Indian Army should withdraw simultaneously from the area but the Army had decided to dig in its heels. The Chinese soldiers had retreated to their territory on Thursday night.

The Point 30R post has been frequented by PLA often as Indian Army has kept an observation post which dominates the Line of Actual Control(LAC) and gives advantage to India in keeping a vigil on the Chinese activity deep across the border.

Chinese helicopters were again seen in action for dropping food packets for its soldiers but none of them violated the air space. The food packets were later collected by the PLA personnel and stored inside the tents.

The tension in this area erupted on Sunday when some of the Chinese workers, who were constructing road on their side, started entering into the Indian side and also claimed that they had orders to build road up to Tible, five km deep into the Indian territory, the sources said. The Indian Army asked the Chinese workers to leave, telling them that otherwise they would face prosecution under Indian laws for entering the country illegally.

Chumar, the last village in Ladakh area bordering Himachal Pradesh, has been a bone of contention with China claiming it to be its own territory.

In 2012, the PLA dropped some of its soldiers in this region and dismantled the makeshift storage tents of the Army and ITBP.

Chumar had become a flash point during the fortnight long stand-off last year in Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) last year as the Chinese side had objected to overhead bunkers erected by the Indian side.

As part of an agreement reached at the flag meeting to end the stand-off from April-May 2013 at DBO, the Indian side had to dismantle some overhead bunkers in Chumar.

Again, Chumar witnessed Chinese troops walking away with an Army surveillance camera on June 17 which was meant for keeping an eye on the PLA troops patrolling there. The same camera was returned after a few days.

During winter this year, Chinese soldiers attempted to enter this area riding on horses. The area has witnessed frequent incursion attempts by the Chinese troops.

(With PTI inputs)

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