On eve of Xi visit, tense stand-off in Ladakh yet again

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NewZNew (New Delhi) : Just two days before Chinese President Xi Jingping starts his three-day visit to India from September 17, troops of either country are locked in a tense stand-off at Chumar in South Eastern Ladakh.

A similar stand-off had occurred in April-May 2013 at Depsang in Northern Ladakh, some 650 km north of the present spot. Incidentally, it was called 10 days before Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was to begin his maiden visit to India in May 2013.

Notably, the current stand-off is not along the disputed and undemarcated 3,488 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China, but is at the junction of the settled and agreed upon International Boundary and the LAC at Chumar in Jammu and Kashmir.

Some 100-odd troops of the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) are facing the Chinese virtually eyeball-to-eyeball. India objected to China sending earth movers to build a road in an area along the LAC that is disputed between the two countries. The road will damage Indian interests in the South Eastern Ladakh.

A flag meeting was conducted today at the designated meeting point at ‘Sppangur-Gap’, in the Chusul area of eastern Ladakh. Brigadier-level officers were locked in discussions which have remained inconclusive so far.

At the meeting, the Indian side cited how the 2005 protocol was being violated by the Chinese. Since the LAC is not demarcated, there is a difference in perception of its location on the ground. Patrolling is carried out in these areas but troops do not hold ground.

Indian troops followed the 2005 protocol. “As per the protocol, soldiers on either side have to show a banner to the other side asking to withdraw,” said sources.

Showing of banner is a standard operating procedure and is called the ‘banner drill.’ It is done when troops of the two sides come face-to-face due to differences on the alignment of the LAC or any other reason.