According to reports reaching various government agencies here, the Army had a face-off with the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) as recent as June 27 in the lake when their troops tried to enter the Indian waters. Udhampur-based Northern Command Army spokesperson Col S Goswami declined to answer a query from PTI about the latest incursion attempts and instead was asked to "approach PRO (Army)".
However, there was no reply from his side when it was pointed out to him that he was the spokesperson of the Army. The Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs when asked by reporters yesterday about reports of fresh incursions by Chinese troops in Ladakh region merely said Indian soldiers guarding the country's borders will be able to provide an appropriate response should any incident occur on the border.
According to sources privy to the development, Chinese troops were intercepted at the imaginary line that is supposed to be the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the lake and sent back after the face-off drill during which the army personnel on both sides wave banners claiming it to be their territory.
The incursions have taken place in eastern Ladakh and on the northern bank of Pangong Lake, located 168 km from Leh, the sources said. The Chinese patrols used to come frequently from the northern and southern banks of this lake, whose 45 km stretch is on the Indian side while another 90 km is on the Chinese side.
However, every attempt was foiled by the Army which has been equipped with new boats.
The high-speed interceptor boats, that were bought from the US, can accommodate nearly 15 soldiers and are equipped with radars, infra-red and GPS systems. These boats are stated to be as good as the Chinese vessels and are used to conduct reconnaissance and area domination patrols.
The sources said the Chinese patrol boats were backed up by PLA troops from the banks of the lake and the move was apparently to put psychological pressure on the Indian troops who man the area. The situation along the banks of the lake has always remained volatile with Chinese troops being intercepted by Indian Army patrol several times after the three-week long stand-off in the Depsang plains of Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) in May last year.
The areas where the face-off frequently occured included the Finger-VIII area, also known as Siri Jap. China has managed to construct a road up to Finger-IV area which also falls under Siri Jap area and is five km deep into the LAC, the sources said. China in its maps claim that this area belongs to it while the Indian Army has been claiming it to be part of Ladakh.
However, as the Indian side was trying to back its claim during negotiations, the Chinese army constructed a metal-top road and claimed the area to be part of Aksai Chin area, the sources said, adding many a time the Indian Army has used the same road to patrol the area and lay claim over it.