The Indian Army on Sunday dismissed a media report which claimed that a minor face-off between the Indian and Chinese troops took place this month in the no-patrolling zone at Eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley. The Army clarified that no such incident happened and the article published in media “seems to be inspired by sources who may be trying to derail the ongoing process for early resolution of issues in Eastern Ladakh”.
A no-patrolling zone extending to around 3 kilometers, around 1.5 km each, on either side of the clash site near the Y-junction of the Galwan Valley, was created after the June 15, 2020 incident when 20 Indian army personnel were killed in violent clashes with the Chinese. A 30-day moratorium was also applied on foot-patrolling then. It was not known if it has been extended.
The Army, however, said no such “minor face-off” took place. “The article seems to be inspired by sources who may be trying to derail the ongoing process for early resolution of issues in eastern Ladakh,” it said in a statement.
“After the no-patrolling zones were created last year, the two sides occasionally conduct reconnaissance to see if the other side has crossed the line. The patrols are sent at different times. On the particular day, the Indian and Chinese patrols reached the area at the same time, a minor face-off happened but they returned quickly,” said the official.
The official added that China still has camps beyond the no-patrolling zone and there has not been any reduction in troop deployment since last year. The official explained that both sides send periodical patrols “out of suspicion.”
It may be recalled, that prior to April-May 2020, when China amassed troops at the particular location in Galwan, claiming it to be Chinese territory, Indian troops regularly patrolled the area that is said to be within India’s perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Earlier, the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) used to patrol and leave, but since April-May 2020 it made a permanent presence within 600-800 meters of India’s perception of the LAC.
On February 11, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha that India and China have reached an agreement for disengagement in the Pangong Lake area to cease their forward deployments in a “phased, coordinated and verified manner”, which would “substantially” restore the pre-April 2020.
Since April 2020, Chinese troops blocked Indian troops from reaching at least 10 patrolling points (PPs) — running from Depsang plains in the north to Pangong Tso (lake) in the south in Eastern Ladakh. In all, there are more than 65 PPs from the base of Karakoram to Chumar.
India and China have held 11 rounds of talks so far after the clashes last year. While the troops partially disengaged on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso, phased disengagement is yet to take place at the other friction areas in Eastern Ladakh — Gogra, Hot Springs, Depsang and Demchok.
“There has been no reduction in the number of troops on either side. China is currently doing some exercise so they have enhanced their presence along the LAC. There was some talk to pull back Indian troops to deploy them on COVID-19 duty. However that was later ruled out,” the official said.
On April 2, the Ministry of Defence in communication to Konchok Stanzin, councilor, Chushul said that “due to the present operational situation in Ladakh, grazers have been asked to restrict their cattle movements.”