Indian Army, PLA 'face-off' at Pangong Tso Lake: Why China eyes Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim & Arunachal Pradesh

An intelligence report two years ago had said that Indian forces should keep an eye on Himachal, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

Doklam standoff

The shadow of Doklam still haunts the Indian and Chinese armies. The Indian Army said today that both armies were engaged in "face-off" near the northern bank of Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh.

In a statement, the Indian army said: "There was a face-off between the two armies but it got over after the delegation-level talks between the two sides."

The face-off is over now and it had de-escalated and disengaged fully after delegation-level talks yesterday," Indian Army added.

Interestingly, the confrontation took place in the same area where Indian and Chinese troops had engaged in a bitter scuffle during the Doklam standoff. 

(Photograph:Zee News Network)

Line of Actual Control

The Indian Army added that such "incidents" occur due to "differing perceptions of the LAC". Clearly, this is not the first time such an incident has taken place. Last year, the People's Liberation Army again had infiltrated 300-400 metres inside the Demchok sector of eastern Ladakh.

Demchok stretches from eastern Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh is one of the 23 "disputed and sensitive areas" identified on the Line of Actual Control(LAC). Indian and China share a border of 4,057 km along the Line of Actual Control.

In a similar move, Chinese troops in April had infiltrated 6km inside the Indian border in Lake Pangong in Ladakh, the same area as a few days ago, intelligence agencies had told the media. According to media reports, over 170 transgressions have been recorded by the Chinese Army in 2018. While in 2016, the number was 273 and in 2017 a total of 426 such incidents were reported.

In view of its strategic location, the Indian Army keeps an eagle eye over Ladakh.

In March, Northern army commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh had visited forward posts in Western Ladakh to review operational preparedness in the sector. The terrain and sub-zero weather present unique challenges for Indian troops.

The Indian Army deployed in the Ladakh area is always at an operational preparedness level with PLA troops ever eager to exploit any Indian weakness.

The temperature hits very low during the winter in Ladakh and it becomes difficult to carry out day-to-day activities in the region as the road which connects Kargil and Ladakh from Kashmir remains shut for months as high snow accumulates on the ground.

(Photograph:DNA)

Chushul area in Leh district

Kashmir's Chushul area in Leh district is one of the five designated meeting points for Indian and Chinese troops to sort out local differences.

An intelligence report two years ago had said that Indian forces should keep an eye on Himachal, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. China in fact, closely tracks the entire LAC from Ladakh, Himachal, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh and PLA troops often infiltrate inside till they are stopped by Indian forces.

Arunachal Pradesh Governor BD Mishra had said last year that Chinese intrusion into Indian territory was a "tactic", whenever they are challenged, they go back, he pointed out.

(Photograph:Zee News Network)

Arunachal Pradesh's Kibithu

Just a few months after the 73-day Doklam standoff in 2017, reports had emerged that Chinese troops were undertaking construction activities along the LAC.

Reports said the PLA troops were also building telecommunications tower and an observation post with surveillance equipment, with expansion seen in an area called Tatu located on the other side of Arunachal Pradesh's Kibithu.

Former defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said last year that China was involved in the construction of helipads, sentry posts and trenches for its army personnel in Doklam.

(Photograph:Facebook)

73-day face-off at Doklam

According to a parliamentary panel, it took thirteen rounds of diplomatic discussions between India and China to resolve the face-off between their militaries in Doklam in 2017.

The report by the Committee on External Affairs termed the Chinese intrusion at Doklam as a “blatant but unsuccessful attempt”.

Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day face-off at Doklam from June 16, 2017, after the Indian side stopped the PLA from building a road.

The impasse ended on August 28, 2017. To avoid border skirmishes, the panel strongly suggested that a comprehensive Border Engagement Agreement be concluded between the Indian Army and the PLA, establishing mechanisms for confidence-building between the two sides.

(Photograph:Zee News Network)

Nathu La Pass

In the mountainous state of Sikkim bordering China, small incursions and troop stand-offs are common along with other parts of the contested 3,500 km (2175 miles) frontier.

China says that unlike other parts of their shared border, the delineation of the frontier with Sikkim is settled, and it has the right to develop the area.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang had said two years ago that, "China's road-building activities in Donglang on its own territory are totally reasonable and understandable."

The Nathu La Pass, which lies on the frontier between Sikkim and Tibet, was the site of a fierce border clash between Chinese and Indian troops in 1967. The confrontation lasted for four days from September 11 to September 15, 1967, as India sought to gain "tactical advantage".

(Photograph:Zee News Network)

Cho La, near Nathu La pass

Another confrontation took place in the same year in October 1967 at Cho La, a few kilometres from Nathu La pass between Chinese and Indian troops.

Chinese and Indian troops were involved in a scuffle, which reportedly ended on the same day.

(Photograph:Zee News Network)

Doklam

The India-China demarcation line called the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a British legacy has seen several standoffs which including a border war. The borders of the two countries travel chiefly through Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, areas where considerable Chinese activities have been seen in recent years, especially in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

Indian and Chinese Armies were involved in a border war in 1962 along the LAC, which wasn't clearly defined at the time. Both sides finally recognised the LAC through an agreement in 1993. However, tensions in the region remain with infiltration bid by the PLA taking place often throughout the year.

(Photograph:Zee News Network)