Indian, Chinese troops clash in Ladakh, Sikkim; several injured

Forces reinforced in eastern Ladakh

Indian, Chinese troops clash in Ladakh, Sikkim; several injured

The troops disengaged after dialogue at the local level. AFP file

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 10

Troops of nuclear-armed neighbours, India and China have physically clashed at two separate locations along the disputed and un-demarcated frontier between the two countries.

Details are emerging of an ongoing development in Eastern Ladakh that is much bigger in scale and has wider ramifications than the clash in North Sikkim on Saturday.

Sources have confirmed that on the night intervening May 5 and May 6, a clash ensued at a spot called ‘finger 5’ on the northern bank of the Pangong Tso (Lake) in Eastern Ladakh.  It was one of the spots were pitched battles were fought during the India-China war (Oct-Nov) 1962.

In an earlier incident in 2017 near the same spot, troops had hurled stones at each other.

In the latest incident Indian and Chinese troops have been injured, confirmed a senior official while with holding back confirmation of either the nature of injuries or the numbers of those injured.

The Northern Army Commander was apprised of the event and he has reviewed the situation. Sources said as a precautionary measure forces have been substantially reinforced on both sides, however, they ruled out any escalation for now. The Northern Army Commander has visited the spot. 

It all started on April 27, when troops of both sides came face to face. The tension was brewing on the night of May 5 and 6. The Chinese clashed with the Indian troops, more than 250 men were involved in the fracas at attitude of 14,000 feet. This has been simmering since then. A meeting of senior commanders had been conducted, matters flared up again.

India and China have an un-demarcated 3,448-km boundary called the Line of Actual Control (LAC) running all along the Himalayan ridgeline in an east-west alignment.

The Pangong Tso, a 135 km-wide glacial-melt lake, straddles both countries. It has boat patrols from either side.  Eastern Ladakh — a land of barren tree-less landscape dotted with high mountains and equally high passes — has been virtually militarily “tailored” to prevent a repeat of 1962 — when China, with exceptions like Rezang La, literally overran the Indian military defences.

Elsewhere in North Sikkim, a clash on Saturday led to injuries to troops, including four from the Indian side. Aggressive behaviour and minor injuries to both sides took place, sources confirmed. Some 150 troops are believed to be involved in the fracas in which blows were exchanged. “Troops disengaged after dialogue and interaction at local level,” Army officials confirmed Sunday morning. At least four Indian and seven Chinese troops are said to be injured.

The incident occurred Saturday in what is the ‘Naku La sector’ ahead of Mugathang, a pass at an altitude of more than 16,000 ft.

As per existing protocol, when troops of either side come face-to-face along the disputed sections of the LAC, they ask either side to return.

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