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Thursday , August 17 , 2017
 
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India & China troops 'scuffle, throw stones'

New Delhi, Aug. 16: A flag meeting between the Indian and Chinese armies called today to resolve a face-off between the troops after they allegedly got involved in a scuffle and stone-pelting in Ladakh on Independence Day remained inconclusive.

Yesterday's trouble came amid a nearly two-month stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops in the Doklam plateau in Bhutan.

Today's meeting, led by officers from the two armies, was held at Chushul in Leh, one of the designated places for such meetings. Yesterday, soldiers had come to blows and later hurled stones at each other near the picturesque Pangong Lake after Chinese troops allegedly transgressed the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

"The flag meeting was held today to resolve frequent border skirmishes, including the one yesterday. We conveyed our position and both sides are trying hard to resolve it amicably. Settling differences on the border is a long process and the channel of communication will remain open," a senior security official said.

China, however, denied that People's Liberation Army soldiers entered Indian territory along the banks of the Pangong Lake.

Indian reports said a Chinese patrol team transgressed the LAC along the banks of the lake, two-thirds of which is under Chinese control. They allegedly came to blows with Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) troops after their alleged incursion attempt was thwarted.

"A heated argument took place between the two sides, leading to a scuffle. Later, both sides threw stones at each other, resulting in minor injuries to soldiers of both armies. At least six ITBP personnel suffered minor injuries," a Union home ministry official said.

The situation was brought under control after a customary banner drill under which both sides held banners before marching back to their respective positions.

Sources in the defence ministry declined to comment on the outcome of the flag meeting.

"During the meeting, we deliberated on such incidents (skirmishes) on the border and other key issues to ensure strengthening of the mechanism to maintain peace and tranquillity," a senior official said.

Yesterday's face-off is not the first in the disputed Ladakh zone on the India-China border but it assumed significance because it happened on Independence Day - when ceremonial border meetings take place between the two armies. The People's Liberation Army skipped the meetings, the first such instance in a decade, although the Indian Army had sent an invitation.

There are eight spots along the border in Ladakh where Indian and Chinese troops often face off.

"The dispute at the border is long-standing and should be resolved through talks and diplomatic channels. Till that happens, status quo should be maintained by both sides.... The heightened tension and frequent eyeball-to-eyeball face-offs need diplomatic intervention," an army official said.

ITBP director-general R.K. Pachnanda today chaired a meeting with senior officials of the force's operation branch and sought a detailed report on the ground situation in Ladakh.

Phone fear

Wary of hacking and information theft from smartphones, the government has sent notices to phone-makers in China and other countries to provide the framework and procedures followed for data security.

Twenty-one phone-makers, including the Chinese brands Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi and Gionee, and other companies like Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry, besides some Indian firms, have been asked by the Union electronics and information technology ministry to submit their response by August 28.


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