The stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh’s Demchok area, which began on Wednesday morning over the construction of a water canal ended on Thursday evening.
The standoff was between the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) with the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops.
Officials explained that India was making a nallah (canal) near Demchok in its own area. The Chinese soldiers objected to it which led to the standoff.
“The canal was being made when the Chinese soldiers objected to it,” said an official.
About 60 ITBP and Indian army soldiers are engaged in the standoff with about 50 PLA troops, said sources.
“The stand-off ended on Thursday late evening. The construction of the canal has been completed by our side. The Chinese soldiers went back and our troops have also returned,” said an official.
The army has denied a stand-off took place in the area. The army’s Northern Command had tweeted, “#EasternLadakh. No Chinese incursion across LAC. Issues relating construction projects on both sides of LAC being resolved in #BPM.”
China today refuted that its troops had crossed over to the Indian side in Demchok to stop the work of a canal. “I can tell you that the Chinese border troops have been operating on the Chinese side of the LAC,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.
Hua also said “either side shall not take action that may unilaterally change the statues quo of LAC.”
But this is not the first time that an incident between Indian and Chinese troops has taken place in the area.
In 2014, there was a face-off in Demchok over the construction of one such canal in the area.
Officials explained that Chinese villagers had setup tents in Demchok during September, 2014, to protest the construction of a 100 feet long water channel, connected to the Charding Nilong Nallah (CNN), which passes through Demchok. The LAC passes through the CNN.
Explaining what had happened in 2014, officials said the Indian villagers in Demchok wanted a water source for irrigation and other purposes. “They requested the local authorities for the water source. They started constructing a water channel (under MNREGA) from the CNN towards Demchok. The Chinese objected to it, as they said that the LAC passes along the CNN and the water channel cannot be constructed,” explained an official.
The Chinese villagers setup tents at a grazing ground, which India believes is a part of it, according to the official. On both sides of the CNN, there are grazing grounds, which are used by the Chinese and Indian villagers for their cattle.
Following the setting up of the tents, Chinese troops also arrived at Demchok. This led to the Indian Army and the ITBP also rushing their troops to Demchok. “Talks and flag meetings were held with both sides. The Indian and Chinese troops later withdrew from the area. Subsequently the water channel was also destroyed and the tents, which were currently not occupied were removed in mid-July last year,” said sources in the security establishment.