New Delhi, Aug. 21: Chinese soldiers entered Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh and camped for two days before returning on August 13, but official sources in Delhi described the transgression as a “non-event”.
An Indian Army long-range patrol and Chinese troops crossed paths on the border near Chaglagam in eastern Arunachal’s Anjaw district on August 11, an army source said.
The site is referred to in the military as the “Fishtail” area, which has a history of transgressions by border patrols, one as recently as February this year, because the boundary is not defined. Both armies patrol up to their “lines of perception” but the overlap could be as wide as 20km.
Another source said the area is the responsibility of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, which reported the Chinese transgression to the army. The ITBP position is ahead of army positions.
Sources in the army headquarters said the incident was not comparable with the stand-off at Raki Nala in eastern Ladakh in April-May this year when Chinese troops pitched tents. The face-off lasted three weeks before Indian and Chinese soldiers withdrew from their positions following a flag meeting.
The sources said soldiers on long-range patrols might carry tents and equipment to shelter themselves from the weather in the heights. In the Fishtail area, at heights above 11,000ft, the patrols can last up to 12 days.
In that event, soldiers might pitch tents. That is not necessarily to be interpreted as an effort to occupy territory, an army officer said.
Although the Indian establishment maintains it was a “non-event”, former BJP parliamentarian from Arunachal, Kiren Rijiju, said the Chinese had intruded 60km and were still within Indian territory.
“The Chinese came in till the Plamplam post of the Indian forces and crossed the Tashitara Gompa along the border,” Rijiju said.
Local sources from Chaglagam said the Chinese had come 40km from the village to a place where, they said, Indian Army forces are still stationed.
However, government sources said the long-range patrol personnel were at the Hardig La (pass) or at a place called Delta-6, which is farther away, “and are staying put there” for now.
The mountain pass is about 90km north of Chaglagam, the last habitation where the ITBP mans a border outpost.
Although civilian and government versions seldom match, they agree that Chinese incursions are not uncommon in these remote mountains, scarcely populated by Mishmi tribal villages.
“The Chinese keep coming and patrols from here keep going there,” a local villager said over the phone.