Even as India and China are involved in a military standoff in eastern Ladakh since May, troops from both sides were involved in a clash in Naku La in Sikkim on January 20.
While details of any injuries are not yet available, sources mentioned that some troops sustained minor injuries during the brawl. The incident happened as Indian troops stopped a Chinese patrolling party in the region.
Army said in a statement: “It is clarified that there was a minor face-off at Nakula area of North Sikkim on 20 January 2021 and the same was resolved by local commanders as per established protocols.”
There had been a similar brawl in Naku La in May last year, soon after the troops had clashed on the north bank of Pangong Tso in early May. On May 9 last year, the troops were involved in a brawl in the Naku La sector that had resulted in troops injured on both sides.
Indian and Chinese troops had clashed again, ten days later in eastern Ladakh, and since then the militaries from both sides are involved in a standoff in the region. Soldiers are locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation, separated by just a few hundred meters at several heights on the north bank of Pangong Tso and in the Chushul sub-sector.
Senior military commanders from both sides had met for the ninth time on Sunday. The meeting, which had started after 10 am, lasted for more than 15 hours and ended at 2:30 am on Monday morning, sources said.
There is no official word from the government about the outcome of the meeting. However, sources had mentioned earlier that while China has indicated willingness to pull back its troops from the friction areas, the two sides have not reached an agreement on the details of the process of disengagement.
Both sides have around 50,000 troops each in the region, along with additional artillery, tanks and air defence assets.
Sources within the military establishment have mentioned earlier that the defence forces are alert for China trying to open another front in the northeast, even as the stalemate in eastern Ladakh continues.
Speaking at his annual press conference on January 12, ahead of Army Day, Army Chief General MM Naravane had stated that “it is not only the Eastern Ladakh but we have maintained a high state of alertness all along the northern borders as of now, keeping the threat perception in mind”. He said that “we have gone in for a winter posture and deployment. But as I said, we are alert and ever-ready to meet any challenges.”