Troop face-off at Chumar, Ladakh ahead of Chinese president visit
NEW DELHI: Eastern Ladakh continues to be a flashpoint
between India and China, with a flag meeting being held between rival military
commanders on Monday after a troop face-off at Chumar to the south, while a “civilian
confrontation” persisted in Demchok to the north.
India has strongly objected to the People’s Liberation
Army’s attempt to construct a road leading right up to the Line of Actual
Control (LAC) in the Chumar sector, one of the few sectors in eastern Ladakh
where Indian positions and supply lines are much better than the PLA ones, said
China, in turn, is flexing its muscles to stop Indian
civilian workers from constructing a water irrigation channel under the NREGA
scheme at Demchok for the last one week. Leh district collector SS Gill told
journalists that the PLA had ferried a large number of Chinese civilians in its
vehicles to the site to scuttle the ongoing construction work.
The Chinese civilians or graziers from a village
called Toshigang, as per reports, have even pitched tents in the area.
All this comes just ahead of Chinese President Xi
Jinping’s three-day visit to India beginning from September 17, though the
Indian government sought to downplay the incidents.
Asserting that border issues would be resolved at the
local level, external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin on Monday
denied the MEA had been asked to intervene after Ladakh officials complained
that the Chinese had intruded almost half-a-km into Indian territory.
However, “unresolved boundary issues will be addressed,”
said Akbaruddin, referring to the bilateral discussions scheduled between PM
Narendra Modi and the Chinese president during the visit.
But the incident in the Chumar sector, which is virtually
on the Ladakh-Himachal Pradesh border, seemed quite serious with the PLA troops
outnumbering Indian soldiers by 3:1 during the face-off which began on Sunday.