4:58 am - Wednesday January 16, 2019

Indian and Chinese troops: Face-off continues in Chumar and Demchok areas

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Indian and Chinese army officials ended a flag meeting by reiterating their commitment to peacefully settle border disputes but the standoff between troops of the two countries in Chumar and Demchok areas of southern Ladakh continued on Tuesday with both sides holding on to their positions.

In Chumar, Chinese troops want India to vacate a position overlooking a new road that they have built. The dispute in Demchok is over Chinese grazers putting up tents in a common grazing ground along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The Chinese objected to India’s attempt to harness water sources in the area as they do not want a change in the irrigation pattern.

As more details emerged regarding the situation on the border, there was a sense of worry in the Indian security establishment that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has raised the bar in Chumar area, which was not part of disputed regions along the LAC.

China has increasingly become restless in Chumar area and had earlier asked India to destroy its bunkers. Chinese troops even tried to physically remove Indian structures but their efforts were resisted.

In Chumar, India holds higher positions overlooking the other side of the LAC. The trouble started when China built a new road, which was visible from the Indian positions. The Chinese side now wants India to retreat, but India has refused to budge.

India has also declined to leave its positions in Demchok area east of Chumar. There are around 14 to 15 Chinese tents in the region. The Indian side, too, has pitched tents in the common pasture. The confrontation point is close to the disputed area of Charding La.

The standoff at Chumar and Demchok were discussed at the flag meeting held in Chushul on Monday. The meeting remained inconclusive as the two sides continued to stick to their positions.

Officials said the stress was on resolving the deadlock at the tactical level. There have been over 300 transgressions on the LAC by the Chinese this year, but the latest incidents occurred just ahead of a visit of Chinese President Xi Jingping. The officials want the visit to pass off smoothly.

The Indian side has stressed on resolving problems in the spirit of the 2005 protocol that sought peaceful settlement of such border issues.

Despite repeated objections raised by China, the Indian troops have continued to patrol areas perceived to be Indian territory.

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