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31 Jul 2017

Chinese army entered Indian territory, threatened shepherds in Uttarakhand

In June, a Chinese helicopter violated Indian airspace and hovered for around four minutes over Barahoti.
In June, a Chinese helicopter violated Indian airspace and hovered for around four minutes over Barahoti.(HT File Photo)
Anupam Trivedi, HT, Jul 31, 2017, Dehradun: Chinese troops were sighted on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Barahoti in Uttarakhand, officials said on Monday, against the backdrop of the nearly two-month-old standoff between the two sides in the Sikkim sector.

The latest incident came almost a year after People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers were spotted on the Indian side in the same area of Chamoli district. The Chinese troops intruded almost a kilometre into Indian territory and threatened some shepherds, PTI reported. The incident occurred last week and the Chinese troops went back after about two hours, sources said.

Chamoli’s superintendent of police Tripti Bhatt acknowledged that “something” had occurred at the border but did not go into details.

“I am not supposed to comment since it’s a matter of the strategic relationship between two nations. But there has been something (in Barahoti). Partially, it (the news report) is correct,” Bhatt told HT on phone.

In New Delhi, sources sought to play down the reported intrusion. They said “incidents of a similar nature have happened in the past but are normally sorted out locally”. Such incidents “should not be given undue importance”, the sources added.

Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said the Indian Army is keeping a close watch on the 370-km frontier with China in Uttarakhand following the standoff near the Sikkim border.

Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a standoff at Donglang near Nathula since June 16. The faceoff began when Indian soldiers acted in coordination with Bhutan to block the construction of a road by Chinese troops in Donglang, which is under Beijing’s control but claimed by Thimphu.

In June, a Chinese helicopter violated Indian airspace and hovered for around four minutes over Barahoti, the superintendent of police of Chamoli had confirmed.

Barahoti is an 80-km-long pasture located 140 km from Uttarkhand’s capital Dehradun where local grazers go with their livestock.

Former chief ministers Vijay Bahuguna and BC Khanduri, while participating in internal security meetings on record, said Chinese troops had trespassed into the Indian side more than 30 times in the past decade.

Last year, an inspection team of Uttarakhand officials on a routine visit to the LAC near Barahoti encountered some Chinese soldiers on July 19. The PLA troops appeared “out of the mist” and signalled to the Indian team to go back. The state government had confirmed this incident.

Recently, a team of officials left for the LAC in Chamoli to take stock of the situation following the standoff in the Sikkim sector.

A 100 km road has been built to reach Rimkhim from Joshimath in Chamoli district. Beyond this point, it is an 8-km trek to the LAC near Barahoti.

The Hoti river and Parvati Kund (lake) make the area a favourite grazing ground, said SS Pangti, a retired IAS officer.

“Barahoti is very vulnerable (to incursions) as it has several passes,”said Pangti, who has extensively travelled in the state’s border districts.

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