China using local nomads on Tibetan side to push territorial border into Ladakh, India

A nomad woman with child taking care of a flock of goats along the shores of Tso Kar, Tibet. (Photo courtesy: Russ Taylor/nomadruss)

(, Dec21’20) – Amid a continuing border faceoff that is now in its eighth month, a group of civilian-dressed Chinese soldiers in two vehicles recently crossed the Indian border into Changthang village in Nyoma area, 135 km east of Leh, capital of India’s Union Territory of Ladakh, reported the Dec 21.

The intruders were reported to have objected to the local nomads allowing their cattle to graze in the area. However, they were forced to go back after strong protests from the local residents, who also informed ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) personnel in the area, a few days ago, the report said.

Indian government officials have denied Dec 21 that Chinese troops had entered into Indian territory and had gone back following an intervention by the locals and ITBP personnel.

The claim had stemmed from a viral video that surfaced on social media. But government sources said the video was old and about a local civil issue, reported Dec 21.

A few local nomads from the other side of the border with their pets entered into the Indian territory several days ago and were confronted by locals.

“This has not happened for the first time. This has been happening for the last several years as they are locals and roam in that area with tents, pets etc and cross border sometimes,” the ANI news service Dec 21 quoted an unnamed senior Indian government official as saying.

The matter was reportedly being dealt with by local civil authorities since it was not a military issue.

Nyoma Councillor Ishey Spalzang who represents the constituency in the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council has said the incident had occurred four-five days back and there was ongoing dispute over grazing land between the two sides over the past several years.

The Councilor has cited locals as saying the vehicle carried people who looked like civilians but there was a strong possibility that some soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army were also among them. They have also said it has been a regular occurrence over the past few years.

It is an established Chinese government practice to send in civilians first, whether fishing boats on sea or nomads on land, to later stake territorial claims, as many countries have experienced in recent years.

In the current case, Konchok Stanzin, who represents the Chushul constituency, located along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), has said: “Intruding into Indian territory and claiming it their land, is now a regular act of the Chinese Army and its establishment. They regularly harass and intimidate our nomads who now fear going near the border for grazing their livestock and in the process the Chinese have taken over large parts of our land. Chinese nomads are provided all the facilities and are encouraged to move to the order but our authorities are consistently failing local nomads.”


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