Itanagar: Chinese soldiers with road-building machines crossed up to 200 metres into Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh in late December, almost reaching a border village in the Upper Siang district before Indian troops stopped them, locals in the border state said.
People in the security establishment confirmed the development to Hindustan Times on Tuesday.
China’s latest incursion, which comes four months after the two nuclear-armed neighbours ended a tense border standoff at Doklam, a largely uninhabited plateau near the strategic India-Bhutan-China tri-junction, is a rare one for this time of the year. The Chinese rarely launch incursions in winter.
One of the people in the security establishment said that there is “no face-off now” but that the “Chinese have left their road construction material on the site”.
“The Chinese have increased their road construction activities in the area in recent past,” added this person, who asked not to be identified.
Locals say Indian security personnel intercepted the Chinese troops near Bising village (under Tuting subdivision), along the eastern bank of Siang river.
According to them, Indian soldiers confronted their Chinese counterparts and seized their road construction machines including two excavators.Some of the locals said they are not being allowed to go beyond Geling village, the next administrative circle after Tuting town and towards the border with China.
HT has learnt that the incursion took place around a week to 10 days ago, almost coinciding with a meeting of the special representatives of India and China in New Delhi. The two representatives, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Member of Politburo of Communist Party of China’s Central Committee Yang Jiechi, on December 22, stressed the need to resolve border differences at the earliest and discussed confidence-building measures to ensure peace.
Duli Kamduk, the deputy commissioner of Upper Siang said: “Our officials in Tuting subdivision have not reported any Chinese incursion. There is no word from the armed forces too.”
The army spokesperson did not respond to queries on its version of the happenings. Army officials in the Northeast said any denial or confirmation of the incident was in the domain of the army headquarters.
“The government’s lethargy in developing roads and bridges in Arunachal Pradesh is encouraging China to occupy Indian land as they have already built a two-lane road to the border at many points,” said Vijay Taram, a lawyer and green activist based in Pasighat, headquarters of the East Siang district.
The 73-day Doklam standoff began after the Indian Army asked China to halt road construction in Bhutanese territory. It ended on August 28 after both sides agreed to pull back their troops and China halted road construction.
During the Doval-Yang meeting, the two countries underlined the need to resolve their differences with due respect for each other’s “sensitivities, concerns and aspirations.” That dialogue marked the 20th round of talks between the special representatives to find a solution to the intractable boundary row between the two countries.