Indian and Chinese soldiers were involved in a physical clash at Naku La near the Sikkim border three days ago, as per sources, after a PLA troop patrol attempted to intrude into Indian territory. Sources along the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) said that a brawl ensued at the India-China border in Sikkim and that the Indian Army thwarted the Chinese incursion attempt.
Several Chinese soldiers were injured while some Indian soldiers were injured too. The attempt of the Chinese army’s intrusion follows the ninth round of corps commander-level talks lasting for over 16 hours at distant Moldo between representatives of India and China on Sunday.
This is the first account of a physical escalation between personnel of the two powerful armies since the Galwan valley clash on 15/16 June when there were casualties on both sides, with 20 Indian Jawans being martyred.
The situation at Sikkim is said to be tense but calm now.
After a gap of over two-and-half months, India and China had on 24 January held the ninth round of military talks specifically focusing on ways to move forward on the long-negotiated disengagement process in eastern Ladakh as thousands of their troops remained deployed at friction points under freezing conditions.
The corps commander-level meeting began at around 11 AM at the Moldo border point on the Chinese side of the LoAC in eastern Ladakh and continued till after 2:30 AM, sources said.
The Indian side insisted that the onus was on China to carry forward the process of disengagement and de-escalation at the friction points in the region.
India has been maintaining that the disengagement process has to start simultaneously at all the friction points and no selective approach was acceptable to it. Close to 1,00,000 Indian and Chinese troops are deployed in eastern Ladakh as both sides have been holding on to their ground and showing readiness for a long-haul, amid continuing diplomatic and military talks to find an amicable solution.
Lt Gen PGK Menon, the commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, led the Indian delegation at the talks where India has all along been demanding restoration of status quo ante in all areas of eastern Ladakh prior to April. The face-off had begun on 5 May.
The eighth and last round of the talks had taken place on 6 November during which both sides broadly discussed disengagement of troops from specific friction points.
The seventh round of corps commander-level talks had taken place on 12 October where China had pressed for the withdrawal of Indian troops from a number of strategic heights around the southern bank of Pangong lake.
The location of the latest flashpoint, however, is far away from Ladakh, all the way to the east of Nepal in Sikkim.