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Communication with villages close to clash site ‘cut off’, says top Ladakh official

Over the last 15 days, “there has been significant increase in forces in the region, including the moving of reserve forces to Chang La.”

Written by Naveed Iqbal | Srinagar | Published: June 18, 2020 1:51:40 am
india china border dispute, galwan valley faceoff, galwan india china faceoff, ladakh border faceoff, india china army border An army convoy move along a Srinagar- Leh highway leading to Ladakh 

Villages close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) where the confrontation between the Indian and Chinese soldiers took place are “completely cut off from communication”, the Chief Executive Councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) told The Indian Express on Wednesday.

The authorities “have not been able to reach local councillors there as well,” Gyal P Wangyal said. The LAHDC, Leh, is the key governing body of the Ladakh region.

The Chief Executive Councillor, who is also Chairman, LAHDC Leh, had a meeting with the Union Territory Administration on Wednesday where, he said, “we were briefed about the situation”. Wangyal also said that over the last 15 days, “there has been significant increase in forces in the region, including the moving of reserve forces to Chang La.”

Saugat Biswas, Divisional Commissioner, Ladakh, said that he had discussed the lack of communication with the frontier villages with the Army, “They have told me that it (communication links) comes and goes, but it is not completely snapped,” Biswas told The Indian Express. However, attempts to reach councillors from the areas concerned, Durbuk and Shyok, have remained unsuccessful, he said.

Korzok councillor Gurmet Dorjay said that the situation in the region was “tense”, and that there had been no communication with the civilian population in the villages closest to the LAC over the last two weeks.

“There are civilian populations in Durbuk and Shyok, which are about 120 km short of Galwan. However, there has been no communication with them. These villages also do not have electricity, and depend on solar panels for a couple of hours of light in their homes,” Dorjay said.

Around 100 families live in Shyok, and about 500 in Durbuk, the councillor said.

Namgial Durbuk, a former councillor at the LAHDC, alleged that the situation in Leh had been deteriorating since the end of April, “and the authorities reacted really late to the situation”. He said: “Nomads from both sides used to move freely between finger 2 and finger 8 until recently. The Chinese have been moving closer year after year, and the locals have been raising these concerns with the authorities. However, it took an unfortunate event of this scale to alert everyone.”

Former Executive Councillor Tsewang Rigzin said he was stopped from visiting areas beyond Chang La. “We have been seeing heavy troop movement since Monday’s events, and with this kind of deployment, de-escalation does not seem imminent,” he said.

The autopsies of the soldiers killed in action on Monday night were conducted at the Sonam Nurbu Memorial hospital on Wednesday before the bodies were flown to their respective states.

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