India-China faceoff: Special Frontier Force Officer on recce at Pangong killed in mine blast
New Delhi: A Special Frontier Force officer was killed and another personnel of the force seriously injured in a landmine blast, while they were on a reconnaissance mission at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, sources said.
A special unit of the Special Frontier Force from Uttarakhand has been deployed in eastern Ladakh to gather reports about movements about Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops and subsequently enable them to be thwarted. The incident took place between Black Top and Thakung Heights at Pangong Tso’s south bank where India has thwarted a Chinese incursion.
The Special Frontier Force, which comes under Indian intelligence agencies, was deployed after the government found that China is trying to advance further against India.
The Indian Army, as well the government, however, refuse to comment over the issue.
Two days ago, Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in skirmish at the southern bank of the Pangong lake where the Chinese brought in close to 450 troops but the Indian Army said that their attempt to change the status quo was thwarted.
Sources said Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops, with help of ropes and other climbing equipment, started ascending on to a table-top area between Black Top and Thakung Heights at Pangong Tso’s south bank.
Hearing the commotion, the Indian Army was alerted and swung into action.
Earlier, Indian intelligence agencies had alerted the Indian Army about the PLA plans to change the status quo in other areas along the LAC. Thereafter, skirmishes erupted between both sides but things did not escalate. When Chinese troops saw the strength of Indian troops, the skirmishes stopped.
“Both the countries’ troops are still standing in front of each other,” said a source.
To further de-escalate, a brigade commander-level flag meeting started at Chushul and it is still underway.
The Indian Army, however, has officially denied any skirmish.
In a statement issued here, it said that on the intervening night of August 29 and August 30, 2020, PLA troops violated the previous consensus agreed in military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo.
“Indian troops pre-empted this PLA activity on the southern bank of Pangong lake, and undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on the ground,” it said.
The Indian Army also stated that they are committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity through dialogue, but are also equally determined to protect India’s territorial integrity.
However, China on Monday said its troops never crossed the LAC.
At Pangong Tso, China had already strengthened its positions between Fingers 5 and 8. The PLA had refused to pull back eastwards from the 8-km stretch it occupied from Finger 4 to Finger 8 by building scores of new fortifications there since early May.
India has asked China to completely withdraw its troops from Pangong Tso. But, China has refused to budge.
The mountain spurs jutting into the lake are referred to as ‘Fingers’ in military parlance.
Both countries are engaged in the current four-month-long standoff at the LAC in eastern Ladakh. Despite several levels of dialogue, there has not been any breakthrough and the deadlock continues.
On June 15, as many as 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops were killed in a violent clash in the Galwan Valley.