Chinese troops enter Ladakh, take away surveillance camera

NEW DELHI: The People’s Liberation Army(PLA) continues to needle Indian forces all along the unresolved Line of Actual Control (LAC) – from Arunachal Pradesh to Ladakh – despite all the “good atmospherics” generated during the recent visits of Chinese premier Li Keqiang here and defence minister A K Antony to Beijing.

In yet another incursion in south-eastern Ladakh, a PLA patrol crossed into Indian territory in the crucial Chumar post area and took away an Indian surveillance camera after dismantling it on June 17.

The video camera was returned only on July 3 after the Indian Army-ITBP team lodged a strong protest during a flag meeting at Spanggur Gap in Chushul sector on June 19.

The Chumar post on the Ladakh-Himachal Pradesh border was the bone of contention even during the 21-day military face-off in April-May, which saw the two rival armies pitching tents and indulging in banner drills after PLA troops intruded 19 km into the Indian territory in the Depsang Bulge area of the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector.

Though Chumar is some 250-km south of DBO, Indian observation posts and surveillance cameras there have for long irked the PLA since they can “look” into Chinese territory and track troop movements there.

In fact, the main pre-condition laid down by the PLA to withdraw from Depsang during the face-off was that India should dismantle the temporary bunkers it had constructed in Chumar. The crisis was finally defused on May 5 after India dismantled what it called “a tin shed” at Chumar and the PLA troops simultaneously withdrew from Depsang. “Chumar is one of the few sectors in Ladakh where our positions and supply lines are much more advantageous than the PLA,” said an officer.

The June 17 incursion saw the PLA patrol cross over into what India perceives to be its side of the LAC and slash the wires of the cameras installed there, which fed live images to the Indian post some 5-km to the rear. On noticing the PLA activity, a joint Army-ITBP patrol also rushed to the area but by then, the PLA patrol had withdrawn with the dismantled camera.

“There was no confrontation or face-off. But the matter was strongly raised at the June 19 flag meeting. So, in the next flag meeting on July 3, they returned the camera,” he said.