IAF to probe intrusion by Chinese copters

2 choppers sighted over Barahoti in Uttarakhand

IAF to probe intrusion by Chinese copters

The Indian Air Force on Sunday said it would investigate the intrusion by two Chinese helicopters in the Barahoti area of Chamoli district in Uttarakhand.

Two helicopters of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force flew over the Chamoli district on Saturday, triggering security concerns. This is the fourth incursion into Indian airspace by the PLA choppers since March.

“One chopper was sighted hovering over Barahoti area, violating Indian airspace, around 9.15 am on Saturday. It remained inside the Indian airspace for nearly four minutes,” Chamoli Superintendent of Police Tripti Bhatt told the media. A second chopper was seen minutes later.

Official sources said the choppers, which returned to the Chinese side after five minutes, could have carried out aerial photography of Indian ground troops. “The IAF is investigating the incidence. Air space violations can also happen in the absence of border demarcation,” said a source in the IAF.

India always denies Chinese intrusion inside the Indian territory, but maintains transgressions by the PLA troops happen because the two countries have different perception about the disputed border.

Barahoti is one of the three border posts in the middle sector along the more than 4,000 km long Sino-Indian border, which is under a boundary dispute. The middle sector comprises Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where ITBP soldiers are not allowed to carry weapons and are in civilian clothes under a decision taken by the central government in June 2000.

On the least disputed ‘middle sector’, the two sides exchanged maps as a part of the boundary negotiation mechanism.

The Barahoti area is not new to Chinese movements. In July 2016, intrusion by the PLA troops was reported in Barahoti. However, the incident didn’t last long as it was handled in accordance with the mutually accepted protocol.

In 1958, India and China listed Barahoti, an 80-sq-km sloping pasture, as a disputed area where neither side would send their troops.

In the 1962 India-China war, the PLA did not enter the 545-km middle sector, focusing on the Western (Ladakh) and Eastern (Arunachal Pradesh) sectors.

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