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September 19, 2020
India Politics

Army chief visits Ladakh after border skirmish at LAC

India and China have deployed additional troops, especially in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, after a face-off near Pangong Tso on May 5-6.(Hindustan Times file photo)

The visit came a day after India rejected China’s allegation that Indian troops initiated tensions and crossed LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim sectors and accused the Chinese army of hindering patrols on the Indian side.

Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Friday visited Leh, the headquarters of 14 Corps in Ladakh, for a security review of the sensitive sector amid tensions between India and China along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC), two officials said on the condition of anonymity. He returned to Delhi later in the day.

The visit came a day after India rejected China’s allegation that Indian troops initiated tensions and crossed LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim sectors and accused the Chinese army of hindering patrols on the Indian side.

Soldiers on both sides are showing restraint and efforts were underway to de-escalate, said one of the officials cited above.

India and China have deployed additional troops, especially in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, after a face-off near Pangong Tso on May 5-6. India bolstered its troop levels after the Chinese side brought in reinforcements and also reportedly pitched tents and erected temporary positions in the Galwan Valley as part of its efforts to establish a presence there.

China’s foreign ministry first accused Indian troops of trespassing across LAC on Tuesday, saying Beijing had to take “necessary countermeasures” after the Indian army allegedly obstructed normal patrols by Chinese troops.

A government spokesperson on Thursday said, “Any suggestion that Indian troops had undertaken activity across LAC in the western [Ladakh] sector or the Sikkim sector is not accurate.”

HT was the first to report on May 10 about tensions flaring up between India and China in north Sikkim, where 150 soldiers were involved in a standoff a day earlier. Four Indian and seven Chinese soldiers were injured during the confrontation.

Scores of soldiers from the two countries clashed near Pangong Tso on the night of May 5-6 and a few were injured in the scuffle that involved around 250 men. While a flare-up was avoided as both armies stuck to protocols to resolve the situation, tensions spread to other parts of eastern Ladakh, including the Galwan Valley.

Talks between local commanders have failed to ease tensions and diplomatic channels are at work to end the standoff, officials said. The current situation along LAC marks the first major flare-up since the 73-day standoff between India and China at Doklam near the Sikkim border in 2017.

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