Indian troops have reportedly been locked in a stand-off with the Chinese Army in Ladakh since Wednesday, PTI reported. The People’s Liberation Army personnel is believed to have stopped an irrigation canal project in the area on Wednesday afternoon prompting Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel to rush to the spot to intervene. However, the Indian Army played down the media reports.
“[There are] routine objections and clarifications which either party seek whenever there is construction related activity. The issue is being resolved through established mechanisms,” an Army official told NDTV even as reports surfaced about an Indian Air Force aircraft landing very close to the border with China on Thursday.
The stand off reportedly started when a group of around 55 Chinese Army personnel forcefully stopped the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act project in the Demchok sector of Leh. They are believed to have said the construction work could not continue because the project did not have the requisite permission from Beijing. However, the Indian Army contended that such permission was required only in case of defence projects.
PTI said 70 Indian Army personnel have fortified the area to stop the Chinese troops from moving any farther into Indian territory. The region has been a bone of contention between India and China as both countries dispute each other’s claims over the area and the Line of Actual Control. The countries share around 4,000 km of disputed and unsettled boundaries running from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh. In 2014, an irrigation project under the MNREGA scheme in the area led to a similar situation after the PLA raised objections against it.
Relations between the two countries have deteriorated over the past year because of several factors, including China’s displeasure over the Dalai Lama possibly visiting Arunachal Pradesh, and a boycott of Chinese goods sold in Indian markets. China has also blocked India’s bid to ban Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar at the United Nations, and is continuing plans for its Economic Corridor with Pakistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Ties have also been affected by the worsening of India’s relations with Pakistan.