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India thwarts Chinese intrusion in north Sikkim ahead of ninth military talks on Ladakh border faceoff

(TibetanReview.net, Jan25’21) – Ahead of the resumption of military-level talks after a long gap to end their eight-month-long faceoff in eastern Ladakh, Indian and Chinese troops had clashed along the Line of Actual Control near Naku La area of North Sikkim on Jan 20, with both sides suffering what has been described as minor injuries.

The clashes took place on Jan 20, when a Chinese patrol tried to cross into Indian Territory. But the tensions were “resolved by local commanders as per established protocols,” the ndtv.com Jan 25 cited a brief Indian army statement as saying.

There were “insignificant and minor injuries” on both sides, the report cited sources as saying.

Indian government sources were cited as saying four Indian troops were injured when a Chinese patrol was forced back, adding that China’s People’s Liberation Army suffered an unknown number of casualties. However, outlook.com Jan 25 cited sources as saying 25 Chinese soldiers were injured.

“Both sides brought in some reinforcements…there were injuries on both sides in the physical clash. But there was no firing. The situation is under control,” the timesofindia.com Jan 25 quoted a source as saying.

The Indian army was reported to have added that the media should “refrain from overplaying or exaggerating reports which are factually incorrect”.

The Naku La pass, located at an altitude of 19,000 feet, connects Sikkim to Chinese occupied Tibet and is a known sensitive border area with a history of clashes dating back to 1959.

The ndtv.com report noted that troops from the two sides had last clashed in the same region in May 2020, just days before an unprecedented escalation when 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed in a night clash in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.

The two sides held the ninth round of military talks yesterday and discussions went on for over 15 hours. The meeting, which began on the occupied-Tibet side of the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point at 11 am on Jan 24, continued till 2.30 am on Jan 25, the report said.

With India insisting on complete disengagement and de-escalation and China insisting on changing the status to the level of their post-incursion gains, the talks seem to have remained deadlocked.

Though the troop confrontation at Naku La had eased after some days, the face-off still continues at the “friction points” in Pangong Tso, Chushul and Gogra-Hotsprings areas in eastern Ladakh, said the timesofindia.com report.

However, there has been no immediate official word on the outcome of the ninth round of military talks between the delegations led by 14 Corps commander Lt-General P G K Menon and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin.

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