India and China may have announced an end to their 20-day stand-off in Ladakh sector, but the situation has not entirely settled down judging from a recent incident when the Chinese intercepted an Indian Army patrol and prevented it from going to Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The incident took place near Finger-VIII area, also known as Siri Jap, on May 17, two days before Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang arrived in New Delhi after it was announced that the stand-off resulting from a 19-kilometre deep Chinese intrusion had ended. It was claimed that the intruding Chinese troops had gone back to their previous positions.
While the Udhampur-based Army spokesperson refused to comment on the incident, official sources said there was a brief stand-off at the Finger-VIII area after which army patrol returned without proceeding to the LAC.
The sources said that after the incident all patrols were stopped by the Ladakh-based 14 corps including the one proposed to be sent in Depsang plain, where Chinese Army had pitched tents for nearly three weeks beginning from April 15.
China has managed to construct a road upto Finger–IV area which also falls under Siri Jap area and is five km deep into the LAC, the sources said.
Chinese claim in their maps that this area falls under its area where as Indian Army has been claiming it to be part of Ladakh and have often cited the 1962 war when armies of both the sides fought bitter battles in this area. Major Dhan Singh Thapa was awarded Param Veer Chakra for fighting PLA in the area.
However, as the Indian side was trying to back its claim at the negotiating table, the Chinese Army constructed a metal-top road and claimed the area to be part of Aksai Chin area, the sources said, adding many a times the Indian army has used the same road to patrol the area and lay claim over it.
The Chinese intrusion in the remote Daulat Beg Oldi sector on April 15 appears to have been triggered by construction of an observation tower in Chumar division.
The Chinese side, according to the minutes of the flag meetings held as late as in the last week of March this year, had been objecting to the construction of the watch tower along the Line of Actual Control in Chumar division, 300 kms from here.
After the announcement that the stand-off has been resolved, Indian security patrols in certain areas such as Rocky Knob have been curtailed, the sources said.
Chumar, a remote village on Ladakh- Himachal Pradesh border, has been an issue for Chinese which claim it to be its own territory and have been frequenting it with helicopter incursions almost every year. Last year, it dropped some of the soldiers of PLA in this region and dismantled the makeshift storage tents of the Army and ITBP.
This area is not accessible from the Chinese side whereas the Indian side have a road almost to the last point on which the army can carry a load upto nine tonnes.
There appears to be some lack of coordination among various Indian defence forces. The Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has complained to the Union Home Ministry that they had been kept out of the May 5 flag meeting with the Chinese by the Army when the decision to withdraw forces on both sides was taken.