NEW DELHI: In a major escalation, Indian and Chinese troops clashed on December 9 in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh. There have been injuries to soldiers on both sides.
This is first big clash between the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers at the Line of Actual Control after the Galwan Valley incident on June 15, 2020, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
The Indian Army said that in certain areas along the LAC in the Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh there were areas of differing perceptions, wherein both sides patrol the area up to their claim lines. “This has been the trend since 2006,” an Army source said.
“On 9 December 2022, PLA troops crossed the LAC in the Tawang sector, which was contested by own troops in a firm and resolute manner. This face-off led to minor injuries to a few personnel from both sides,” said Indian Army. Both sides immediately disengaged from the area.
“As a follow-up of the incident, our own commander in the area held a flag meeting with his counterpart to discuss the issue in accordance with the structured mechanisms to restore peace and tranquillity,” the Indian Army added.
Sources said that over 500 PLA soldiers were present during the clash. Indian and Chinese soldiers regularly indulge in face-offs at the LAC due to the difference in perception about the LAC.
However, in recent years Chinese soldiers have become more aggressive during these face-offs. PLA troops even use improvised weapons, including iron rods studded with nails, to attack Indian soldiers.
Army sources in Guwahati said more than 10 Indian soldiers were injured in the clash. They said the injuries on the part of the Chinese Army were much more. At least six Indian soldiers were shifted to an Army base hospital in Guwahati, security sources said, but the condition of all was stated to be out of danger.
India and China have been involved in a military stand-off since April-May 2020, when the Chinese troops occupied disputed areas in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Gogra-Hotsprings area in Ladakh. There was also a major clash between Indian and Chinese troops in April 2020 in Pangong Tso, in which many Indian soldiers were seriously injured.
The area also witnessed shots being fired for the first time in 45 years in September 2020.
China is also preventing Indian shepherds from grazing their animals in their traditional grazing grounds all along the LAC to consolidate its claim.
Reports said the face-off happened when the Indian soldiers tried to restrict the Chinese PLA constructing an illegal fence near the LAC. The face off took place on December 9 and 11 in which minor injuries were reported on both sides.
The security sources privy to border activities said there has been a change in the pattern of PLA patrols, with large-size patrols coming now to assert their claim while also testing India across the LAC. Defence officials recently claimed that the change of pattern was aimed at preventing any surprise or getting overwhelmed by Indian troops in case there is a flare-up with the Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
China has also done a massive build-up of its forces along the LAC and has also placed aircraft at forward bases. It has built huge infrastructure, including bridges, for the movement of its troops.