The Indian Army, however, denied People’s Liberation Army soldiers had crossed across the LAC and “planted” Chinese flags on Indian territory. “There were some attempts to intimidate the civilians celebrating the Dalai’s Lama’s birthday there, with aggressive gestures and banners that said `Ban all activities to split Tibet’. But the PLA troops remained on their side of the LAC,” said a senior officer.
The incident took place when the Tibetans and residents gathered near Kuyul village in Fukche area on July 6, the day the Dalai Lama turned 84, to celebrate the event. “Some of them flashed the Tibetan flag at the celebrations, which are held in the area virtually every year,” said a source.
“The Chinese personnel were prepared in advance. Some of them in civilian clothes, armed with Chinese flags and banners, arrived at the spot in two jeeps and held a demonstration in protest. The situation cooled down after some time,” he added.
Demchok is one of the 23 “disputed and sensitive areas” identified on the LAC, stretching from eastern Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, which witnesses frequent “transgressions and troop face-offs” between the two armies due to “differing perceptions” of the unresolved boundary. The other disputed areas in Ladakh include Trig Heights, Dumchele, Chumar, Spanggur Gap and Pangong Tso.
PLA troops, in the garb of nomads with cattle, had intruded around 300-400 metres inside the Demchok sector to pitch five tents in the Cherdong-Nerlong Nallan area in July last year. The PLA subsequently removed three of their tents after brigadier-level talks between the two armies.
Though such incidents are quite common along the LAC, the two armies were locked in a major military face-off at the Bhutanese territory of Doklam near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction for 73 days in 2017, which saw both sides move additional troops closer to the border.
Indian troops then did manage to physically block the attempt by Chinese soldiers to extend the existing motorable road southwards towards the Jampheri Ridge in south Doklam. But the fallout has been that the PLA has constructed military infrastructure and helipads as well as permanently stationed troops in north Doklam since then.