17 August 2017

India, China troops engage in stone pelting, fisticuffs in eastern Ladakh

In a serious turn to the existing tensions between India and China, troops of the two sides clashed on Tuesday, with both pelting stones and hitting each other. Men on both sides were injured.

This was the first such incident in several years.

Sources confirmed that the incident occurred when land-based patrols of both sides came face to face north of the Pangong Tso (lake) in eastern Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday. It is an area claimed by both countries and is one of the spots where the two countries fought pitched battles during the 1962 war.

The Pangong Tso, a 135 km-wide glacial-melt lake, straddles both countries. It has boat patrols from either side. The land patrols are different from these.

The spurs of the mountains forming the northern bank of the lake are militarily termed as ‘fingers’. On a west-to-east axis, India claims territory till ‘Finger 8’, but is in physical control till ‘Finger 4’. The aerial distance between the two ‘fingers’ is about 15 km. The land north of these mountains is disputed.

Land patrols of both sides often come face to face and a drill is followed to disengage. This includes unfurling of a banner, asking each other to withdraw. This is the first step.

New Delhi has asked for a report as the pelting of stones is considered a serious matter. It is not clear who started the stone pelting or how it was triggered.

A flag meeting could be held between brigade commanders of either side at the Spanggur Gap, the designated meeting point south of the Pangong Tso.

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