Tense situation near North Sikkim resolved after intervention at highest political-diplomatic levels
After months of lull on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian and Chinese Armies were involved in two face-offs in the last few days. On Saturday, soldiers of both the sides came to blows in Sikkim while a similar tense situation was resolved at the local level earlier last week in Ladakh region.
The entire 4,000 km odd long LAC was devoid of any serious stand-offs since the 73-day long such incident in Doklam near Sikkim in 2017. The two armies backed off after intervention at the highest political and diplomatic levels from two countries.
The face-off in Naku La, at a height of more than 16,000 feet near North Sikkim took place on Saturday afternoon, sources said here on Sunday.
There were more than 150 soldiers from both the sides and some of them traded blows, it was learnt. A minor scuffle also broke out before the situation was brought under control, officials said. The Naku La is a pass in North Sikkim at 5,000 metres.
The Indian Army later said, “Aggressive behaviour by the two sides resulted in minor injuries to troops. The two sides disengaged after dialogue and interaction at local level. Temporary and short duration face-offs between border guarding troops do occur as boundaries are not resolved.”
Officials also said troops resolve such issues mutually as per established protocols. Unconfirmed reports said at least three Indians and seven to eight Chinese soldiers were injured in the scuffle.
In a similar incident on May 5 and May 6, about 250 troops engaged in scuffle and some Indian and Chinese soldiers were injured. The stand-off took place near a site called “Finger 5” on the northern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake in Eastern Ladakh.
The same spot had witnessed a violent clash between two armies in 2107 also when troops from both sides hurled stones at each other. In the latest incident, local commanders from both the armies brought the situation under control, said officials, adding both the sides had increased force levels as a precautionary measure.
Following the incident, senior Indian army officers visited the area for an on the spot assessment, they said adding tension was simmering there since April 27 when patrols of two armies confronted each other.
The Pangong Tso, a 135 km-wide glacial-melt lake, is in both countries and hence both the armies patrol. On September 11, 2019 too, there was a face-off between the two armies on the northern bank of the lake.
The two latest face-offs came many months after the last such incident. The two armies were engaged in one of the longest stand-offs in 2017 in Doklam for 73 days after the Indian Army objected to the Chinese army constructing a road in the strategically important region.
Months later in April 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their first informal summit in Wuhan. The two leaders issued “strategic” guidance to their respective armies for maintaining peace and tranquility at the LAC. Both the countries have set protocols to resolve issues and the local commanders are empowered to take decisions to resolve such matters.
In January this year, Army Chief General M M Naravane had said post the summit, “small differences are sorted locally and not allowed to escalate”.
According to information given in Parliament by the Government in November 2019, there were 1025 transgressions by the Chinese Army along the LAC between 2016 and 2018.
Monday, 11 May 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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