NEW DELHI: The Chumar area along the Line of Actual Control(LAC) in eastern Ladakh continues to be a major flashpoint between India and China, with People’s Liberation Army troops once again taking three Indian porters and their mules into custody for a week earlier this month.

Sources say the porters were released by the PLA troops on December 11 only after the Indian Army intervened through the hotline and a flag meeting between local commanders to demand their return. “The issue was resolved amicably under the existing bilateral border mechanism between the two armies,” said an officer.

Both Indian and Chinese armies have been conducting “aggressive patrolling” along all the three sectors of the 4,057-km long unresolvedLAC – western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal) – to strengthen their claims to disputed territories. India, for instance, has recorded close to 700 “transgressions” by PLA troops across the LAC in the last three years.

In the latest incident, the Indian porters were “detained” in the Chumar sector on December 4 by the PLA troops, who were apparently patrolling up to their “claim line” but which India considers as its own territory. “The porters were looking for their runaway mules when they were detained by the PLA patrol,” he said.

While this incident may have been resolved without escalation, the Indian post at Chumar on the Ladakh-Himachal Pradesh border has for long irritated the PLA because it “looks” into Chinese territory and track troops movements there. Chumar, in fact, is one out of the handful of sectors in eastern Ladakh where Indian positions and supply lines are “far superior” to PLA ones.

Chumar has witnessed several “tense” incidents and face-offs between the two forces in recent years, with China already irked about India’s re-activation of the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO), Fukche and Nyoma advanced landing grounds and construction of some posts along the LAC in Ladakh over the last five to six years to match the massive infrastructure build-up by PLA in the region.

Chumar was also the bone of contention during the 21-day military face-off in April-May that saw the two rival armies pitching tents and indulging in banner drills after PLA troops intruded 19 km into Indian territory in the Depsang Bulge area of the DBO sector.

The main pre-condition laid down by the PLA to withdraw from Depsang during the face-off was that India should dismantle the temporary bunkers it had constructed in Chumar, which incidentally is some 250 km south of DBO. The crisis was finally defused on May 5 after India dismantled what it called “a tin shed” at Chumar and the PLA troops simultaneously withdrew from Depsang. … see more

source: times of india