Troops clash in Ladakh as India blocks China's incursion bids

Indian and Chinese soldiers pelted stones at each other at Ladakh in the western sector, in yet another incident along the Line of Actual Control even as the tense troop stand-off in Doklam area in the eastern sector continued.

The confrontation between the rival soldiers took place on the north bank of Pangong Tso (Tso means lake) in eastern Ladakh, two-thirds of which is controlled by China as it extends from Tibet to India, early on Tuesday morning.

But the Army refused to say anything once again. The PLA soldiers continue to needle Indian forces in all the three sectors of the 4,057-km LAC -western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh) -in the backdrop of both sides having militarily reinforced their positions due to the Doklam standoff near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction.

Late last month, 10-15 PLA soldiers had `transgressed' almost one km into a disputed pocket -a mutually agreed `demilitarized zone' -at Barahoti in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, twice in quick succession.

Eastern Ladakh, in particular, has emerged as a major flashpoint between the two armies, especially in the areas of Chumarr, Depsang and Pangong Tso, over the last several years.

Located at an altitude of 13,900-feet across the Changla Pass, Pangong Tso is a 134-km long brackish lake in which both armies have also deployed armed boats against each other. There are boat, motorised and foot-patrol transgressions on a regular basis in the area.

The region became an even bigger flashpoint when, during the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan, China even constructed a `track' right up to the lake's southern bank.

On the eastern front, China remains adamant about Indian troops unilaterally withdrawing from the ongoing face-off in the Doklam area, which is actually Bhutanese territory but coveted by China.

The Doklam imbroglio, of course, is different from the usual transgressions across the LAC, since it is located in a third country (Bhutan), and India has reinforced its military posture near the tri-junction in the face of escalating rhetoric from China.

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