Chinese choppers seen near LAC in Ladakh, Air Force deploys jets

Chinese choppers seen near LAC in Ladakh, Air Force deploys jets
Representative image

New Delhi: Tension is simmering along the India-China border with troops of the two countries maintaining a close watch on each other in the Pangong Tso lake area in Eastern Ladakh, days after nearly 250 soldiers from both sides were engaged in a violent face-off that left many of them injured, sources have confirmed.

At least a couple of Chinese military helicopters were spotted flying close to the un-demarcated Sino-India border in the area after the fierce face-off on May 5 following which a fleet of Sukhoi-30 jets of the Indian Air Force too carried out sorties there, the sources said.

The troops on both sides held on to their respective positions and even reinforcements were brought in an apprehension of further escalation in tension, the sources said when asked about the face-off.

They said tension was still prevailing in the area, though both sides agreed to disengage during a meeting of local commanders on May 6.

"The situation remains tense," said a source adding some troops are being kept by both sides in the area following the face-off.

When asked, an Army spokesperson said: "Incidents of face-off and aggressive behaviour occur on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Patrols disengage after local level interaction and dialogue. Temporary and short duration face-offs occur as boundary is not resolved."

"I clarify that there is no continuing face-off at the Pangong Tso lake. There is no build-up of armed troops in the area," he said.

The sources said the spotting of Chinese helicopters in the area was nothing unusual as India too flies a fleet of military choppers in the area from three bases in the region.

IAF sources said a range of its aircraft, which also comprises Sukhoi-30 jets, have been carrying out routine sorties in the region including on May 6, adding there was no violation of Indian airspace in the area by the Chinese side. The IAF conducts routine sorties in the region from Leh and Thoise airbases.

On May 5, scores of Indian and Chinese army personnel clashed with iron rods, sticks, and even resorted to stone-pelting, sources said, adding a number of soldiers on both sides sustained injuries in the incident.

In a separate incident, nearly 150 Indian and Chinese military personnel were engaged in a face-off near Naku La Pass in the Sikkim sector of the Sino-India border on Saturday. At least 10 soldiers from both sides sustained injuries in the incident.

The troops of India and China were engaged in a 73-day stand-off in Doklam tri-junction in 2017 which even triggered fears of a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control, the de-facto border between the two countries.

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it.

Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their first informal summit in April 2018 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, months after the Doklam standoff.

In the summit, the two leaders decided to issue "strategic guidance" to their militaries to strengthen communications so that they can build trust and understanding.

Modi and Xi held their second informal summit in Mamallapuram near Chennai in October last year with a focus on further broadening bilateral ties.

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