India and China have differing perceptions of the LAC and troops patrol up to the point they think their boundary ends.
New Delhi: In an ominous move amid the Sino-Indian military standoff in Doklam, about a dozen Chinese troops reportedly trespassed 800 metres into Indian territory in the Barahoti area of Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on July 25 and threatened Indian shepherds grazing sheep to leave.
“The Chinese soldiers stayed for about two hours, from 8 am to 10 am,” a government official told this newspaper.
The Indian government is trying not to read too much into it. Officials, speaking off the record, said such incidents have happened in the past and are best sorted out locally. They “should not be given undue importance”, they added. “Transgressions do occur due to differing perceptions of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). In the Barahoti area, such transgressions are a regular affair and happen twice or thrice a year in June-July,” they added.
The LAC is the de-facto border that separates India and China in several sectors from Ladakh in eastern J&K to the Arunachal Pradesh. It is part of the 4,056 km long India-China border.
India and China have differing perceptions of the LAC and troops patrol up to the point they think their boundary ends. Transgressions are fairly regular along two major stretches — in Aksai Chin (bordering Ladakh) and in Arunachal Pradesh which China claims to be part of Southern Tibet. Such transgressions are usually restricted to about four-five kms into the other’s territory.
Barahoti, an 80 sq km sloping pasture about 140 km from Uttarakhand capital Dehradun, is one of three border posts in what is known as the “middle sector”, comprising Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. It is a demilitarised zone where Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) jawans do not carry their weapons in accordance with a bilateral pact in 2000.
The Chinese media has been increasingly belligerent since the stand-off began in Doklam, which is Bhutanese territory. There have been several reports threatening escalation of troop movement in various sectors if India does not withdraw from Doklam. Indian shepherds and Tibetans, who bring their yaks for grazing, use the Barahoti pasture.
In 1958, India and China listed Barahoti as a disputed area where neither side would send their troops. In the 1962 war, the PLA did not enter the middle sector and focused on the western (Ladakh) and eastern (Arunachal Pradesh) sectors.
In June 2000, during negotiations on resolving the border dispute, India unilaterally said that ITBP troops would not carry arms in three posts — Barahoti, Kauril and Shipki in Himachal Pradesh. ITBP men dressed in civil dress accompany revenue officials who go to this area for official purposes.