A satellite picture taken over Galwan valley in Ladakh (Photo courtesy: Reuters)

Srinagar: Chinese army is now claiming sovereignty over the entire Galwan Valley, while its troops have entered eight kilometres inside the Indian Territory and built a permanent road at Pangong Tso.

Chilling details have emerged in the horrific face-off between the Indian and Chinese armies at the Galwan valley along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.

“There was a meeting between the commanders of two armies and it was decided that both armies will retreat 2.5 kilometres from the existing position. Soldiers of 16 Bihar went to check whether the Chinese army had retreated. They saw that some of the troopers were still there. An argument ensued which snowballed. In the process, the unfortunate incident happened,” Chering Dorjay, former Chief Executive Councilor (CEC) of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh told The Kashmir Monitor in an exclusive interview.

India shares a 3,488-km border with China while Ladakh shares 646 Km of the LAC with the neighbouring country. Jammu and Kashmir is the only place in the country which shares its borders with both Pakistan and China. Leh-based 14 corps of the army is responsible for the security of LAC, Line of Control (LoC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) at Siachen.

“Chinese army has entered eight kilometres inside Pangong. They are at Finger Four now. They have built a permanent road and some structures have also come up. We too claim Finger Eight. Plus the Galwan valley was never disputed. And now China is claiming Galwan (as its sovereign territory),” he said.

Dorjay said the situation is very serious on the LAC though there is no panic among the people living in Leh or border areas. “Situation can improve only when the Chinese go back. So far no bullets have been fired. If the situation escalates, it can spread from Ladakh to Arunachal. However, it does not look like. But local skirmishes cannot be ruled out,” said Dorjay.

Former Chief Executive Councillor said claiming Galwan has huge ramifications given its strategic location for the Indian army. “Road to Army’s Daulat Beg Oldi airport goes via Galwan. It is a small valley but has huge strategic significance. It was an ancient silk route connecting the Karakorum. The Galwan pass is 200 kilometre from Leh and this road used to connect Central Asia,” he said.

Dorjay recalled how they had forced the Chinese to vacate their land without any bloodshed a few years ago. “Chinese troops were entering our territory and harassing our nomads. In one such incident, they torched tents of our nomads. We later evicted Chinese and pitched the tents at the same place so that nomads could graze their cattle,” he said.

This is not for the first time that there has been a face-off between the Chinese and the Indian army on the LAC in Ladakh.  On the intervening night of April 15 and 16, 2013, PLA crossed 19 kilometres deep inside the Indian Territory at Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector on LAC in Ladakh and set up tented posts.  The 20-day old standoff ended on May 5, 2013, when troops from both sides withdrew to the pre-incursion positions on the line of actual control.

 On November 3, 2016, Indian and Chinese troops were locked in a tense standoff along the Line of Actual Control in the Demchok sector of Ladakh after the People Liberation Army (PLA) objected to the construction of a developmental project.

 In 2012, the Chinese army forced the Jammu and Kashmir government to suspend the work on a prestigious irrigation scheme at the Kuyul-Thuksey area of Nyoma block in Leh district of Ladakh division.

  In 2010, the Chinese army forced Jammu and Kashmir government to suspend work on the passenger sheds which were being constructed near the Sino-Indo border in the Demchok area in Leh district of Ladakh region.

  In 2011, Chinese troops crossed the border and threatened the nomads who were grazing their cattle near the border.

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