While India and China are already locked in a standoff in Sikkim over the Doklam plateau, the Chinese media has time and again raked up the Kashmir issue and threatened to enter the region. And now it looks like Beijing is making good on its threats as a major scuffle took place between the soldiers of the two countries along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh on Tuesday, August 15.
Indian and Chinese soldiers are said to have clashed on the northern bank of Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh and there were also incidents of stone pelting in the clash.
"There was a scuffle between the two sides, which included some stone-pelting as well, after Indian soldiers blocked two attempts by People's Liberation Army troops to enter Indian territory at the Finger-4 and Finger-5 areas early in the morning," a source told the Times of India
"Personnel from both sides received some injuries in the stone-pelting. The rival troops later pulled back from the confrontation site after banner drills to defuse the situation."
However, when the daily contacted the Indian Army, they refused to open up on the incident.
Meanwhile, China on Wednesday said that it was not aware of any conflict in Ladakh. It said that it did not know about PLA soldiers entering the Indian territory and said the country was committed to peace and tranquillity along the border. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hu Chunying said, "I am not aware of the information," reported PTI.
Hu also said that the PLA constantly patrols the region and also urged India to respect the LAC. "The Chinese side is committed to peace and tranquillity of the China-India border," she said. "We urge the Indian side abide by the LAC and relevant conventions between the two sides."
Since the Doklam standoff began in June, China has on more than one occasion said that they could enter Kashmir "on behalf of Pakistan" like India did in the Doklam region.
A Chinese defence expert had earlier told the Global Times that this move would be justified as it would be on the lines of the "same logic" that the Indian Army has been using to halt China's road construction project at the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction.
"Otherwise, under India's logic, if the Pakistani government requests, a third country's Army can enter the area disputed by India and Pakistan, including India-controlled Kashmir," the article on the Chinese paper said.
Meanwhile, the Doklam standoff refuses to die down and has made headlines for about two months now. While India has been pushing for diplomatic talks on the matter, China has said that any talk about the region would be possible only after India withdraws its troops from the border. In tune with the conflict, the Indian and Chinese military representatives did not hold the Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) on August 15. Before the BPM is conducted, both the sides usually give a confirmation on it a few days in advance, but this time the Chinese side reportedly did not respond to the invitation.
India is said to have sent the invite a few days ago for a BPM at five border points, but did not receive a response from the People's Liberation Army. "Invite was sent to PLA a few days ago, but they didn't respond. So orders were given to stand down and no BPMs will be held at any of the five locations tomorrow," the Economic Times quoted an officer as saying.
BPMs are usually held on Indian Independence Day, Republic Day and PLA Day on August 1 at Nathu La in Sikkim, Daulat Beg Oldie and Chushul in Ladakh, and Bumla and Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh. On the occasion, the armies of the two countries have discussions and group activities and also take part in sports.
Due to the Doklam standoff, Beijing this year didn't hold a BPM on PLA Day either.