Saturday Jan 28, 2023
NEW DELHI: A security assessment by Indian police in the Himalayan region of Ladakh says there could be more clashes between Indian and Chinese troops along their contested frontier there as Beijing ramps up military infrastructure in the region.
At least 24 soldiers were killed when the armies of the Asian giants clashed in Ladakh, in the western Himalayas, in 2020 but tensions eased after military and diplomatic talks. A fresh clash erupted between the two sides in the eastern Himalayas in December but there were no deaths.
The assessment is part of a new, confidential research paper by the Ladakh Police that was submitted at a conference of top police officers held from January 20 to 22 and has been reviewed by Reuters.
The Indian army did not respond to a request for comment and China's foreign ministry said the situation along the border was at present generally stable.
The report said the assessment was based on intelligence gathered by local police in the border areas and the pattern of India-China military tensions over the years.
The assessment assumes significance as it was submitted at the conference in New Delhi which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India's defence and foreign ministries also did not respond to requests for comment.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson’s office on Saturday said China was maintaining close communication and dialogue through diplomatic and military channels with India.
“Aksai Chin is an inseparable part of China’s territory,” the ministry said, referring to a disputed region that lies at the intersection of China's Xinjiang and Tibet and to the east of Ladakh in India.
Since the latest confrontation began in 2020, China has beefed up infrastructure along the Himalayan frontier, building facilities for its soldiers deployed there, storehouses for weapons and ammunition and helipads, among others.
The ministry said carrying out normal construction on its own territory is a matter entirely within China’s sovereignty.
Referring to China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) the Indian research paper said, “Given the domestic compulsions ... in China and their economic interests in the region, the PLA would continue to build up its military infrastructure and skirmishes would also get frequent which may or may not follow a pattern.”
“If we analyse the pattern of skirmishes and tensions, the intensity has increased since 2013-2014 with an interval of every 2-3 years,” it said.
“With the massive infrastructure build up by PLA on Chinese side both the armies are testing each other's reaction, strength of artillery and infantry mobilisation time”.
India and China share a 3,500 km (2,100 miles) border that has been disputed since the 1950s. The two sides went to war over it in 1962.