India, China hold flag meet in Ladakh
Almost 10 days after three Indian citizens were detained by Chinese troops for straying into disputed territory, local commanders from the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) held a flag-meeting with the objective of improving coordination between the two countries.
Held at eastern Ladakh on Saturday, the flag meeting was meant to coordinate responses in future cases of inadvertent crossing by porters and animals, said an officer of the Indian Army.
The officer was, however, categorical in denying reports that around 20 Chinese soldiers last week entered Indian territory near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and pitched 8-10 tents in the Chepzi area in Ladakh, which is close to the Chumar where several Chinese activities were reported in the past. “We are not aware of any such Chinese activity.
There was no incursion and no face-off,” an army officer in the headquarters told Deccan Herald. An agency report quoting unnamed sources, however, said around 20-22 PLA soldiers had last week pitched around 8-10 tents in the west of Chepzi in Ladakh.
But it is not immediately known whether the Chinese troops still remained in the Indian territory or have left. Senior army officers familiar with border patrolling pointed out that when patrol parties from either side go out in areas close to the LAC, they carry tents and rations for three to four days so that they take rest in the night, if they went too far off from the base camp. But in April-May when PLA troops pitched their tents in the Depsang plains in Daulat beg Oldi sector in northern Ladakh, they went almost after a fortnight and after a series of flag meetings and negotiations between the two countries.
Since the Depsang incident, several incidents of Chinese presence were recorded in Chumar, which is one of the few places on the LAC where India is in an advantageous position. Located 300 km from Leh, it is an area of discomfort for the Chinese troops as this is the only place along the China-India border where they do not have any direct access to the LAC. Earlier this year, troops from PLA crossed over in Chumar sector and took away one security camera of Indian Army.
When India brought it to the notice of the Chinese officials, they returned the camera on the eve of Defence Minister A K Antony’s meeting with top Chinese leadership to bolster bilateral military relations.