Indian, Chinese soldiers injured in clash near Arunachal border

Indian Army soldiers were killed due to a violent face-off between Indian and Chinese troops at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. Photo: Getty Images. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

NEW DELHI, Dec 12, 2022, The Hindu. Indian and Chinese soldiers suffered “minor injuries” after they were engaged in a face-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh on December 9, the Army said on Monday evening. The Hindu had earlier in the day reported the clash that occurred at Yangtse in which around 20 Indian soldiers and a much higher number on the Chinese side were injured, according to multiple sources, The Hindu reported.

“On December 09, 2022, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops contacted the LAC in 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,” the Army said in a statement after reports of the incident. “Both sides immediately disengaged from the area.”

As a follow-up of the incident, Commanders on both sides in the areas held a Flag Meeting to discuss the issue in accordance with structured mechanisms to restore peace and tranquillity, the Army stated. It noted that in certain areas along the LAC in the Tawang sector, there are areas of differing perception, wherein both sides patrol the area up to their claim lines. This has been the trend since 2006, the Army added.

This is the first incident of its kind after the June 15, 2020 incident when 20 Indian soldiers were killed and several others were injured in violent clashes with the PLA troops in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.

Stating that the clash occurred as a large PLA patrol came across into the Indian side, one Army source said “injuries on the Chinese side were much higher than on the Indian side”. At least three different units of the Indian Army were present at the time of the face-off, it has been learnt.

According to another source, a few soldiers sustained fractured limbs during the skirmish and are said to be recuperating at a hospital in Guwahati. Around 600 PLA soldiers were present when the clashes took place, the source said.

This is not the first time that the area in Arunachal Pradesh has seen a face-off between the Indian and Chinese troops. Since the boundary is undefined, Indian and Chinese troops often face off while patrolling the area. In October 2021, a similar incident had taken place when some Chinese soldiers of a large patrol team were detained for a few hours by the Indian Army as they engaged in a minor face-off near Yangtse.

In the last few years, the Army has significantly upgraded firepower and infrastructure along the LAC in the Tawang sector and a similar effort is under way in the rest of Arunachal Pradesh (RALP). This includes road infrastructure, bridges, tunnels, habitat and other storage facilities, aviation facilities and upgradation of communications and surveillance, especially in the Upper Dibang Valley region, as reported earlier.

As reported by The Hindu earlier, there has been a change in the pattern of PLA patrols, with large-size patrols coming now to assert their claim. Before the 2020 standoff in eastern Ladakh, Chinese bases have largely been much farther from the LAC.

Majority of the transgressions in the last few years are in the western sector while there is an increasing trend of transgressions in the eastern and middle sectors, officials had stated earlier. The LAC is divided into western (Ladakh), middle (Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand), Sikkim, and eastern (Arunachal Pradesh) sectors.

In eastern Ladakh, India and China are positioned in close proximity at multiple locations along the undefined LAC for more than two years. While several rounds of talks at diplomatic and military levels have eased the stand-off at a few points, turning the areas into no-patrolling zones, there are others where the build-up continues.

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