After incursion, China's helicopters violate Indian airspace
Leh/New Delhi: As the intruding Chinese soldiers refuse to budge from their occupied position in Daulat Beg Oldi(DBO) sector in Ladakh, two Chinese military helicopters have violated Indian airspace at Chumar, several hundred kms southeast of Leh, adding to the prevailing tension.
The Chinese choppers entered the Indian airspace on April 21 and hovered over the area for quite sometime and returned after dropping some food cans, cigarette packets and notes written in their local language, official sources said today.
The incident happened five days after a platoon-strength contingent of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) had come 10 km inside the Indian territory in Burthe in the DBO sector on the night of April 15 and established a tented post there.
Chumar, which is about 300 km from Leh, provides another access to Aksai Chin, an area which is under illegal occupation of China, besides from DBO.
After the incursion incident, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, a border guarding force, has beefed up its strength in the area and Army from the nearby location had increased its surveillance.
Last September, Chinese helicopters flew over Chumar with some of its troops even getting onto the ground. The troops destroyed bunkers and old tents of the Indian Army before returning to their own air space.
The situation in the DBO sector, meanwhile, continued to remain tense with the PLA personnel, who have come with some dogs and vehicles, refusing to budge from the area.
DBO is a strategically important position from the Army's point of view as this provides access to them in monitoring the activities of Chinese and Pakistani armies along the Karakoram Highway besides being an access point into Aksai Chin.
A General Officer in Command of an Army Division visited the area earlier this week to take stock of the situation, the sources said, adding an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was continuously monitoring the situation and sending pictures of the area.
During a Flag meeting yesterday at Chushool, China denied having made any incursion into the DBO area and refused to vacate the place.
While the Indian side represented by Brig B M Gupta made repeated appeals for maintaining the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Chinese side led by Senior Colonel Ayan Yanti raised objections to construction of bunkers by India at Phuktsey area, 60 km from Leh, and wanted the structures to be demolished.
The Chinese side maintained that the area where they have set up tented posts is part of their territory and denied any intrusion, sources said.
India asked the Chinese side at the meeting to withdraw from DBO, which is at an altitude of 17,000 feet, and revert to status quo as was before the incursion, the sources said.
The Chinese side also pointed out that the civilian and nomad activities in Chumar sector had grown manifold with large number of cattle grazing activity taking place in the area and asked the Indian Army to restrain civilians from moving to the loation.
Brig Gupta countered the Chinese view and pointed out to the construction activities and erection of a fence on the other side of Phuktsey and asked for an immediate halt to it.
The Chinese representative in his response said it was being done by the civilians and not by the Army and assured that the matter will be taken up with the Chinese civilian authorities so that the work can be stopped.
The Indian Army had sent a team of Ladakh Scouts--an Infantry regiment specialising in mountain warfare--to the DBO sector, manned by the troops of ITBP soon after the incursion was detected.
Details of the agreed position of the Line of Actual Control(LAC) were also shared by both the sides.
Transgressions in the Ladakh sector have taken place earlier also due to differences in perception of the LAC. The Defence Ministry had earlier also maintained that the LAC is not properly demarcated in some areas.
ITBP troops have also established a camp approximately 300 m opposite the Chinese location and is monitoring the development.