India China border in LadakhReuters

Even though Indian and Chinese officials have met quite a few times after the Doklam standoff at the Indo-China border in Sikkim, the relations between the two neighbours still remain strained. It is now being said that while the Doklam standoff may have been amicably sorted out, China is spying on a military camp in Jammu and Kashmir.

Beijing is reportedly on a "spying mission" in a military camp in Demchok, Leh, and intelligence sources told India Today that China has been keeping an eye on the camp with the help of three Thuraya satellite phones, which are banned in India. The neighbour is said to be gathering information about the security detail of the camp and the Indian security officials have been on high alert ever since.

As per the information from Intel, the satellite phones were found active about 35 kilometers from Demchok between 3.41 pm and 3.45 pm on November 15 and while one phone was in contact with three Chinese numbers, another phone got in touch with a number that was also traced back to China, reported the daily.

In the past, the three phones have reportedly been found active in Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh, but Ladakh has never been a cause of concern in terms of the activity of these phones. However, quelling tensions, Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir told India Today that neighbours are known to spy on India and this is not the first time that this issue has come up.

"Therefore, the Defence Ministry works in tandem with security and intelligence agencies to foil spying attempts. We won't let such spying missions succeed," he explained.

Meanwhile, the news comes days before National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and China's State Councillor Yang Jiechi meet in New Delhi as part of the 20th round of India-China border talks. The Ladakh issue may come up during the meet.

Another issue likely to be discussed at the meet is the presence of China's People's Liberation Army at Doklam. It was recently reported that about 1,800 Chinese army personnel are present at the border, where the country has been building roads and upgrading existing ones. The PLA has also constructed two helipads in the region and is also setting up huts, shelters and stores to survive the tough winters. Strangely, the Chinese army has reportedly never camped in the region during the winters, and mostly withdrew by November.

Nathu La pass
Nathu La passWikimedia Commons

Indian security sources told the Times of India that while the standoff might have been sorted out peacefully, the "almost permanent stationing of People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops in the region," came with it.

"Earlier, PLA patrols would come to Doklam, which is disputed between China and Bhutan, between April-May and October-November every year to mark their presence and lay claim to the area before going back," the source told TOI. "Now, after the 73-day eyeball-to-eyeball troop confrontation at Doklam between India and China ended on August 28, the PLA troops have stayed put in what we consider to be Bhutanese territory for the first time this winter."