Even as India-Pakistan relations hit a new low with the Modi government calling off secretary-level talks, relations with another neighbor – China - also seemed to plunge with reports emerging of Chinese troops blatantly entering more than 25 kilometers into Indian territory and claiming it as theirs.
The People's Liberation Army troops are reported to have entered deep into the Burtse area in Ladakh, pitching tents a mere 1.5 kilometers from the Indian base, according to The Press Trust of India. This very location, at an altitude of 17,000 feet, was where the two sides had witnessed a tense 21-day stand-off last year following a similar Chinese incursion.
The fresh border breach came to light when Indian troops reportedly saw the Chinese personnel deep inside Ladakh on Sunday, when they were moving to a higher post in the area to reach a 'new patrol base'.
While the Indian troops returned to the base in keeping with newly drafted standard operating procedures, they realized the situation had not changed even on Monday, as the Chinese troops remained there with flags that read "This is Chinese territory, go back".
However, the army spokesperson in Udhampur, Col SD Goswami, denied that any encroachment had occurred.
"There are areas along the border where India and China have differing perception of LAC (Line of Actual Control). Due to both sides undertaking patrolling up to their respective perception of the LAC, transgressions do occur," he told PTI. "However, no incursion or encroachment of Indian territory by China has taken place along the India-China border."
This reported incursion comes just a month after former Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh visited China and pushed for the implementation of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement that was signed by the two countries last October.
The Army Chief had also discussed the need to increase military to military contacts and high level exchanges so as to deter repeated incursions along the border.
The incident comes just days after troops from both sides came together for a ceremonial meeting on 15 August, wherein "both sides reiterated their commitment in upholding the protocols and agreements signed between the two countries and acknowledged that the peace and tranquility which prevails along the Line of Actual Control should be further strengthened and stabilized", according to Col Goswami.
Chinese incursions continue even after the issue was brought by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the BRICS Summit last month. According to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office released after the high-level meet, both sides had emphasized on the need to find a solution to the 'Boundary Question'.
But the solution to the 'Boundary Question' seems vastly distant, as Chinese troops are reportedly still pitched inside Indian territory with an aim to gain tactical advantage over the area that also has an India air field.
Sources told PTI that a satellite image of the area is likely to be taken to confirm if the incursion has happened like it had last year.