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Ladakh on alert after old flashpoint at Galwan river is back in focus


NEW DELHI: The Ladakh sector of India‘s disputed boundary with China continued to be on alert as reports came in that the Chinese PLA had set up tents close to the Galwan River, an old 1962 flashpoint, and started construction across the Demchok area.

Those familiar with details told ET that it has been three weeks since the area has remained tense though authorities believe the situation will gradually be brought under control through established channels. The army has said that “temporary and short-duration face offs occur as the boundary is not resolved”.

Sources in the security establishment said that the Galwan river area— which saw Chinese aggression in 1962—had been reinforced after a recent face off. While troops are not in direct contact on the ground as of now, both sides have moved forces on their respective sides of the disputed boundary.

Situated in Sub Sector North, the area has long been contested by China with patrols carried out frequently by both sides. Sources said that the current round of confrontation took place at Patrol Point 14, following which appropriate steps were taken. The location is close to the Daulat Beg Oldie airfield that is the lifeline for soldiers posted in SSN.

Tension has been building up along the Ladakh border with reports that a short stand off took place at the Pangong Tso lake as well and intelligence pointing out that close to 1,000 heavy vehicles have moved in across Demchok, possibly for construction activities.

A close eye is also being kept on the Nepal border after inputs that border outposts are being reinforced and “thousands of armed police” personnel being deployed after the recent altercation over construction of a road to the Lipulekh pass.

The army did not comment on the Galwan confrontation but said that short duration face offs do take place as the border dispute with China has not been resolved. Sources in the security establishment said that tension in SSN had been building up over time after aggressive patrolling by the Chinese side.

In Demchok, a close watch is being kept on activities across the border with suggestions that an airfield could be under construction. Heavy construction along the disputed Line of Actual Control is protested by both sides as a violation of the understanding that the border would be left untouched. The Galwan river area has a painful history with China, with PLA soldiers surrounding a freshly set up Indian Army post in July 1962, in what would be one of the early triggers to the Sino-Indo war.

A similar stand off also took place at the Naku La pass in Sikkim this Saturday, , with sources saying that about a dozen soldiers were injured on both sides.

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