Chinese troops transgressed the Indian border on land and by air in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand state earlier this month when its men stationed themselves in a dimilitarised zone and its helicopters flew in the Indian air space for over five minutes.
Official sources said the incident took place on July 19 in Barahoti area prompting the security establishment to review the security along the 350 kilometer border with Tibet in the area, official sources said.
While Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat termed the development as “something to worry about” hoping that the central government will pay heed to his request for increased vigil, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has been asked to look into the matter.
According to sources, Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops were seen in the area when state government officials accompanied by ITBP personnel in civil dress visited Barahoti ground.
The team was sent back by Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops who claimed it to be their land recognized as ‘Wu-Je.’
Later, a Zhiba series attack helicopter of the PLA hovered over the ground for nearly five minutes before returning to the Chinese side. It could have carried out aerial photography of the area during the reconnaissance mission, sources said.
Barahoti is one of three border posts in the ‘middle sector’ comprising the states of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand where ITBP personnel are not allowed to take their weapons as per the unilateral decision of the central government in June 2000.
In 1958, India and China had listed Barahoti, an 80-square kilometer sloping pasture, as a disputed area where neither side would send their troops. In 1962 war, the PLA did not enter the 545-kilometer middle-sector and focused on Western (Ladakh) and Eastern (Arunachal Pradesh) sectors.
However, after 1962 Sino-Indian war, the ITBP personnel used to patrol the area with weapons in non-combative manner under which the barrel of the gun is positioned downward.
During prolonged negotiations on resolving the border dispute, the Indian side had unilaterally agreed in June 2000 that ITBP troops would not be carrying arms to three posts which included Barahoti besides Kauril and Shipki in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh.
The ITBP men go patrolling in civil dress and the pasture draws Indian shepherds from the border villages along with their sheep and people from Tibet bringing their yaks for grazing.
The area has been in focus after reports of transgressions taking place from the Chinese side.
Srikanth Kondapalli, Professor in Chinese Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, termed the transgression as “worry” for India.
“After violating the Line of Actual Control in western and eastern sectors, the Chinese troops now seem to be focusing on the middle sector. It is a cause of worry for us,” Kondapalli said.