There was, however, “no face-off or scuffle” during the incident near the Saddle Pass at the Charding Ninglung Nallah (CNN) track junction at Demchok on August 21-22, defence sources said on Monday.
The CNN track junction in Demchok, Patrolling Point-15 (PP-15) near the Kugrang Nallah in the Chang Chenmo sector and the strategically-important Depsang Bulge area are the three major troop face-off sites in the continuing military confrontation between India and China in eastern Ladakh since May 2020.
In the latest incident, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops strongly objected to the presence of Indian graziers in what is perceived to be Indian territory near the Saddle Pass located at an altitude of around 13,800-feet. Indian villagers have been using the area as grazing grounds and campsites for a long time.
After the PLA soldiers on August 21-22 stopped the Indian graziers, the military commanders on the ground from the two sides talked to resolve the issue. “Local commanders at different stretches along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) routinely talk to each other to resolve such issues and maintain peace and tranquillity as per established protocols and norms. It happens quite frequently,” a source said.
India and China have held 16 rounds of corps commander talks, with the last being on July 17, without any concrete progress being made on disengagement and de-escalation at PP-15, Demchok and Depsang in the high-altitude area.
While refusing to restore the status quo in eastern Ladakh as it existed in April-May 2020, China has systematically built new military infrastructure like troop bunkers and helipads, gun and missile positions, roads and bridges, communication and radar sites all along the 3,488-km LAC over the last two years.
This includes construction of two bridges across the Pangong Tso in the Khurnak Fort area, illegally occupied by China since 1958, for better connectivity of its troops between the north and south banks of the brackish lake.
Chinese fighter jets have also taken to flying close to the LAC since mid-June, often violating the confidence-building measure of having a 10-km no-fly zone, as was earlier reported by TOI.