Chinese People's Liberation Army troops crossed over into Indian territory in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district last week and were spotted camping in an area which both sides claim and have agreed to keep demilitarised. The Chinese returned to their side of the border after protests from officers of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Uttarakhand government.
Sources at the Centre, however, sought to downplay the incident, calling it more a case of transgression than incursion. They also suggested that Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat's response to the presence of the Chinese troops may have been `alarmist'. Government sources said the “transgressing“ Chinese troops went back to their territory after some heated arguments during the incident when a team led by the Chamoli district magistrate and others, including officials from the ITBP, first spotted them during a survey of the Barahoti ground on July 22.
The incident has led the Narendra Modi government to review the security along the 350-km long stretch of the Line of Actual Control with Tibet in this area, sources said.
The Chinese soldiers were spotted by the district team inside a “shed built by them“ , adding that it was difficult to confirm “what had transpired between the Indian side and the Chinese troops when they were spotted“. Indian officials recently spotted 9-10 Chinese PLA soldiers in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district. The soldiers waved at the Indian party to return while claiming the area to be their land identified as `WuJe'. Sources said it was later found that a Chinese helicopter hovered over the ground on July 25 for nearly five minutes before returning to its own side. They expressed apprehension that it could have carried out aerial photography of the area during its reconnaissance mission.
Barahoti is one of three border posts in the `middle sector' comprising UP , Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand where ITBP jawans are not allowed to take their weapons as per the unilateral decision of the then government in June 2000. While the Uttarakhand CM termed the development as “something to worry about“ hoping that the Centre will pay heed to his request for increased vigil, union MoS for home Kiren Rijiju said ITBP had been asked to look into the matter .