Nomads were asked to vacate traditional grazing areas, says head of a border village

As India and China resumed the Corps Commander talks on January 24 to address the nine month-long standoff along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh, a village head from one of the border villages claimed that Chinese vehicles were using Indian roads to enter Indian territory.

Urgain Tsewang, nambardaar (village head) of Koyul (Kakjung), one of the last settlements in Demchok sector, shared a video with The Hindu dated December 16, 2020 where two Chinese vehicles are turned away by a group of locals and security personnel. In another video dated December 10, 2020, few Chinese civilians are seen taking photographs of the area, with their vehicles parked nearby.

Mr. Urgain, who shot the video, told The Hindu that when the nomads went for winter grazing this year, Chinese people asked them to vacate the area.

“On December 10, some villagers went there and saw the Chinese had entered the Indian territory and had transgressed more than one kilometre from the border. We contacted the authorities who asked us to camp there and not recede even by an inch. We stood guard for four to five days. The two Chinese vehicles came back again on December 16, but this time the SDM and ITBP officials were there... We chased them away,” Mr. Urgain said.

He said the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army personnel were interspersed with civilians.

“The area where the Chinese are trying to assert themselves is close to patrolling point 38. Our nomads have not been there for winter grazing for the past two years due to some illness in the livestock. We were shocked to find the Chinese sauntering in our areas this time around. This has never happened. There are using roads built by India to encroach on our territory; we will not let this happen,” he said.

He said the Chinese aggression could be caught red handed as everything was recorded on phones.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had informed Rajya Sabha last September that face-offs with the Chinese PLA happened because “patrols were interrupted.” Mr. Singh had said there was no commonly delineated LAC and there was an overlap in the perception of LAC in many areas.

As reported by The Hindu, since April 2020, Indian troops have been denied access to patrolling points (PPs) number 9, 10, 11, 12, 12A, 13, 14, 15, 17, 17A from Depsang Plains in the north to Pangong Tso (lake) in the south. In all, there are more than 65 PPs from the base of Karakoram to Chumar in the south. The PPs are the end points along the undefined LAC up to which Indian troops patrol after starting from their respective base camps.

China has ingressed about 8 km in the Finger area of Pangong Tso and Indian troops have not been able to patrol beyond Finger 4 since the last week of April 2020, when China started amassing troops. Earlier, Indian troops could patrol up to Finger 8. The other areas where build up continues are the Depsang plains, Galwan, Gogra-Hot Springs and south bank of Pangong.