The “physical engagement” took place after over 100 Chinese soldiers intruded into what India considers to be its territory around 10 days ago, which led both sides to rush some reinforcements to the area.
“The standoff took place because the two sides were patrolling to their own perceptions of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which is not demarcated and has overlapping claims, and came face-to-face on that day. The face-off lasted for a few hours before the disengagement took place. There was no damage to our defence or bunkers,” said a source.
“Both sides undertake patrolling activities up to their line of perception of the LAC. Whenever the rival patrols physically meet, the situation is managed according to established protocols and mechanisms agreed by both sides,” the source added.
India deploys a large number of troops in Tawang, which China claims to be part of south Tibet, to thwart any misadventure by the PLA. Chinese troops have intruded across the LAC in the sector to damage unoccupied bunkers and other infrastructure on the Indian side several times in the past.
The new incident comes at a time when India and China are slated to hold the 13th round of corps commander-level talks next week in yet another bid to defuse the 17-month-long military confrontation in eastern Ladakh.
Indian and Chinese troops disengaged in the Pangong Tso-Kailash Range region in February and Patrolling Point-17A near Gogra in August, but the military stalemate over the other “friction points” at Patrolling Point-15, Demchok and the strategically-located Depsang Plains still continues.
With both armies continuing to deploy around 50,000 troops each along the LAC in eastern Ladakh, the PLA has systematically built more permanent troops shelters as well as strengthened its military positions in the high-altitude region, as was earlier reported by TOI.
Army chief General M M Naravane, while reviewing the operational situation in Ladakh last week, had said that the increase in PLA deployments in “considerable numbers” in forward areas all along the 3,488-km LAC, stretching from eastern Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, continues to be “a matter of concern for us”.
The Indian Army has also undertaken matching measures, both in terms of troop deployments as well infrastructure development. “We have also inducted advanced weaponry. We are strong, quite well poised to meet any eventuality,” he said.
Noting the situation has been “quite normal” at the friction points in eastern Ladakh for the last six months, Gen Naravane said he hoped the disengagement process will be taken further in the 13th round of military talks. “By and by, all friction points will get resolved. I am of the firm opinion that we can resolve our differences through dialogue,” he said.