Land and air incursions by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were reported in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand on July 22 and July 25 respectively.
Sources in the home ministry said that on July 22, when some civil administration officials visited the Bara Hoti area, a disputed patch of pasture spread across several square kilometres, they found four-five armed PLA soldiers standing there with a vehicle. The soldiers raised their customary slogan of “This is our land, go back”, following which the Indian officials retreated.
The troops had entered around 200 metres into the demilitarised zone of Bara Hoti through the Tun Jun La pass. The Chinese troops withdrew the same day, sources said.
On July 25, however, there was an airspace violation by Chinese helicopters that transgressed the border in the same area. This was the second such violation in the past two years. In 2014 too, PLA choppers had transgressed into the area.
ITBP DG Krishna Chaudhary Wednesday submitted a report on the incident to Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju at the North Block. He also met Secretary (Border Management) Susheel Kumar to apprise him of the recent developments.
In a statement to the media, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat termed the development as “something to worry about” on Wednesday morning.
“Though our border with China has been largely peaceful, we have all along been seeking increase in vigilance in the area,” he said.
Bara Hoti is one of three border posts in the ‘middle sector’ comprising Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand where ITBP personnel are not allowed to take their weapons as per the unilateral decision of the then government in June 2000.
In 1958, both countries listed Bara Hoti, an 80-square km sloping pasture, as a disputed area where neither side would send their troops. People from both sides, however, go to the area to graze their sheep.
In the 1962 war, the PLA did not enter the 545-km middle-sector and focused on western (Ladakh) and eastern (Arunachal Pradesh) sectors.
However, after the 1962 Sino-Indian war, ITBP personnel used to patrol the area with weapons in a non-combative manner (in which the barrel of the gun is positioned downward).
During prolonged negotiations on resolving the border dispute, the Indian side had unilaterally agreed in June 2000 that ITBP troops would not be carrying arms to three posts, which included Bara Hoti besides Kauril and Shipki in Himachal Pradesh.