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Chinese soldiers spotted in Uttarakhand's Chamoli, ask officials to go back

Chinese soldiers spotted in Uttarakhands Chamoli, ask officials to go back

Dehradun/New Delhi: The Uttarakhand government said on Wednesday that Chinese troops had been spotted within its territory on July 19 by local officials who were asked to return. Army sources however said the incident took place on July 22.

The defence ministry however maintains that there are no incidents of "incursion" by Chinese troops and the "transgressions" occur due to different perception of borders.

Senior state government officials said the incursion was spotted in Badahoti in Chamoli district. District Magistrate Vinod Kumar Suman told IANS that he had sent a report to "appropriate authorities" but refused to elaborate.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat also confirmed the incursion, saying he had reported the matter to the Union Home Ministry. "It is a serious matter. I am sure the central government would look into the issue," he added.

Uttarakhand shares a 350-km-long boundary with China and incursions have been reported in the past too. Only last year some boys grazing cattle were beaten up by Chinese troops and asked to retreat.

Sources said the administration sends teams to Badahoti, which lies in very tough terrain over 100 km from Joshimath, thrice a year -- twice in summer and once in winter.

The area can only be reached on foot. A team of 19 government officials, led by Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Yogendra Singh had on July 19 left for the "summer inspection".

The team is said to have spotted the "presence of Chinese soldiers on the soil". When they engaged in eye-to-eye contact with the soldiers, the Chinese troopers asked them to leave and go back, an official said.

The team retreated to Rimkhim and informed the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) teams posted there. They then informed the district magistrate who passed the information to the chief ministers office. The Chinese retreated to their own side after spending 40 minutes on Indian soil.

The defence ministry has meanwhile maintained that there are no incidents of 'incursion' by the Chinese side, referring to different perceptions of boundary.

Responding to questions in the Lok Sabha last week related to intrusion in Indian territory by Chinese troops, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said: "There have been no instances of intrusion by troops of China or Pakistan into Indian territory.

"However, as there is no commonly delineated Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China, there are areas along the Indo-China border where both sides have differing perception of LAC. Due to both sides undertaking patrolling upto their perception of the LAC, transgressions do occur."

The minister also said in a written replies that the government "regularly takes up any transgression along LAC with the Chinese side through established mechanisms including Flag meetings, Border Personnel meetings, meetings of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs and diplomatic channels".

He added that the two sides have appointed Special Representative (SR) to explore the framework for a boundary settlement from the political perspective of the overall bilateral relationship.

The 19th Round of SR Talks on India-China boundary question was held in China from 20-21 April, 2016.

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