New Delhi: A little over two weeks ago, Chinese troops intruded into the same areas in the Leh-Ladakh sector that had sparked off tensions in April and threatened the locals in Hindi. The troops even broke the high-resolution cameras that the Indian Army had set up in the area a month ago.
While the Army headquarters is tight-lipped about the incident, the broken camera equipment was returned to an Indian Army patrol at a flag meeting on July 3 in Chusul area following furious negotiations between the two sides.
The incident took place on June 17 when a Chinese patrol intruded into the Indian side and dismantled the cameras set up in Chumur near Daulat Beg Oldie. Sources in the security establishment said the cameras had been put up after the Indian Army dismantled some of its structures following the resolution of the stand-off in April. While the Army dismantled the tin sheds it had set up, it quietly set up high-resolution cameras to monitor any Chinese movement on their side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The Chinese patrol was proficient in Hindi and threatened locals, asking them to vacate the area, claiming it to be their own. The incident was reported to the government by Indian intelligence agencies and confirmed by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. It was, however, kept under wraps as the government did not want another international controversy while it was also battling the Uttarakhand floods.
Ironically, this flare up took place even as Union Defence Minister AK Antony was scheduled to travel to China for a bilateral visit this month.
Indian officials feel the repeated incursions are a result of an internal tussle between the Chinese PLA (People’s Liberation Army) and PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy). “There is a subtle power struggle going on within the Chinese leadership. This has resulted in the Chinese becoming aggressive in the South China Sea and the Leh-Ladakh sector, with leaders using the incidents to prove their supremacy in the party hierarchy,” a senior government analyst told DNA. There is also a major difference of perception between Delhi and Beijing on where the LAC is. “The Chinese perception is very different from ours. So, every time they intrude, they insist it is their territory while we claim it is ours,” the analyst said.
The Indian Army has stopped patrolling the Chumur sector as part of a bilateral deal between Delhi and Beijing. However, the June 17 incident shows that the Chinese continue to be as aggressive as ever.
DNA - Saikat Datta/Manan Kumar