A senior Indian official said Indian troops had deployed on four strategic hilltops after what New Delhi called an attempted Chinese incursion along the disputed Himalayan border, underlining the tensions between the Asian giants.
China denied that it had first moved with an embassy spokeswoman in New Delhi accusing Indian troops of crossing the Line of Actual Control (LAC) the de facto border and carrying out ‘flagrant provocations.
For months, Indian and Chinese troops in the western Himalayan region of Ladakh were locked in a high-altitude border confrontation. For more than half a century, the two sides had disputed the course of the frontier.
The Indian official, who was briefed on the latest incident, said the Indian troop move responded to a late Saturday attempt by a large number of Chinese infantry to push a key mountain pass through. They mobilised and occupied the four heights, the official said, adding all four hilltops were on India’s side of the LAC.
The Indian official said military vehicles backed the Chinese soldiers and drew close enough to engage Indian troops in verbal arguments but there were no clashes. He said the incident took place on Pangong Tso’s south bank, a picturesque lake in the snow desert region where Indian and Chinese troops have been facing off since April.
The Indian official said the Chinese had also consolidated positions with what appeared to be new defensive positions on the northern bank of the lake. But Ms Ji Rong, a spokeswoman for New Delhi’s Chinese Embassy, said Indian troops had violated the LAC on the southern bank of Pangong Tso, and near another mountain pass.
In June twenty Indian soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand fighting with Chinese troops in the Galwan area of Ladakh, the most severe clash between the two countries in 50 years. Then both sides agreed to withdraw to the region with military chiefs holding five rounds of talks. But this week, the Indian army said Beijing reneged on the deal by provocative military movements to change the status quo.