Indian soldiers not held at China border: Army

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Chinese soldiers are said to have constructed bunkers and other structures to support their deployments in some disputed areas.

As tensions simmer between India and China in the Ladakh sector that has seen a worrying troop build-up and military reinforcements from both sides after a nasty border brawl in early May, the army on Sunday strongly denied reports in some sections of the media that an Indian patrol party was detained by Chinese forces last week and later released.

“There has been no detention of Indian soldiers at the borders. We categorically deny this. It only hurts national interests when media outlets publish unsubstantiated news,” army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand said. Union minister Jitendra Singh shared the army’s statement on his Twitter handle and described the reports as “dangerously fake news.”

The detention of a border patrol by an adversary is seen as a provocative act that can bring rival forces perilously close to conflict, experts said.

The standoff along the line of actual control (LAC) is not confined to a small area, has triggered an increase in troop numbers on both sides at multiple locations and seems to suggest a greater design rather than adventurism by local Chinese commanders, as reported by HT on Sunday.

Indian and Chinese soldiers are eyeball-to-eyeball at four different locations in the sensitive sector and the total number of soldiers on both sides at these flashpoints is estimated to be around 3,000.

“Wherever the Chinese have sent more troops, we have matched their numbers by beefing up our deployment. Some structures have come up on both sides to support the troops on the ground,” officials said.

Chinese soldiers are said to have constructed bunkers and other structures to support their deployments in some disputed areas. The Chinese side has also deployed troops, vehicles and heavy equipment, involved in a military exercise in the area, to the Ladakh sector — satellite images showing the military build-up have been doing the rounds on social media.

Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane made a low-key visit to Ladakh on Friday for a security review as tensions grew between India and China near Pangong Tso and three pockets in the Galwan Valley region where Chinese troops have pitched close to 100 tents and erected temporary structures to establish a presence.

China’s state-run media has described the latest tensions as the worst since the 2017 Doklam standoff, which lasted 73 days. Soldiers on both sides are showing restraint and local commanders are meeting almost daily to de-escalate. However, experts said ending the stalemate would require political direction and diplomatic intervention.

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

China’s foreign ministry first accused Indian troops of trespassing across the LAC in a statement last week, saying Beijing had to take “necessary countermeasures” after the Indian Army allegedly obstructed normal patrols by Chinese troops.

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

Scores of soldiers from the two countries clashed near Pangong Tso on the night of May 5-6 and several of them 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, tension spread to other parts of eastern Ladakh, including the Galwan Valley area.

Source: Hindustan Times