NEW DELHI: A Chinese soldier was apprehended by Indian troops in the Chushul sector of eastern Ladakh on Friday, in the second such incident amidst the continuing military confrontation in the high-altitude region since May last year.
The people’s liberation army (PLA) soldier was detained after he crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) near Gurung Hill, one of the six-seven heights proactively occupied by Indian troops on the south bank of Pangong Tso-Chushul area on August 28-30, in the early hours on Friday.
The Indian Army is currently questioning the PLA soldier, with the help of interpreters and other experts, to ascertain whether he was on an espionage mission or inadvertently strayed across the LAC in the night.
“The PLA soldier is being dealt with as per laid down procedures and the circumstances under which he had crossed the LAC are being investigated,” said a senior officer on Saturday.
“Troops from either side are deployed along the LAC in eastern Ladakh since friction erupted last year due to unprecedented mobilization and forward concentration by Chinese troops,” he added.
With the Indian Army “confirming” to the PLA – through the hotline between local commanders – that the soldier is in its custody, he is likely to be soon handed over to China at the Chushul-Moldo border personnel meeting point.
Earlier, on October 21, the Indian Army had released another PLA soldier, Corporal Wang Ya Long, who had inadvertently crossed the LAC in the Demchok sector of eastern Ladakh, after a couple of days to complete formalities as per established protocols.
The PLA soldier had been provided medical assistance including oxygen, food and warm clothes to protect him from the vagaries of high-altitude and harsh climatic conditions.
There has been no breakthrough as yet in the military confrontation in eastern Ladakh, which is into its ninth month now, despite several rounds of diplomatic and military talks.
The lack of progress has led to a major delay in even scheduling the ninth round of corps commander-level talks after the eighth one was held on November 6.
Over 50,000 soldiers each from the two sides remain locked in what is virtually an eyeball-to-eyeball standoff in Pangong Tso, Chushul, Gogra-Hotsprings, Depsang Plains and other areas despite freezing temperatures and oxygen deprivation in eastern Ladakh.
Since early-May last year, the PLA has physically occupied the entire 8-km stretch from `Finger-4 to Finger-8’ (mountainous spurs) on the north bank of Pangong Tso, and built scores of new fortifications, bunkers and pill-boxes in the area.
After being caught off-guard by the PLA on the north bank of Pangong Tso, Indian troops had carried out the proactive military manoeuvre to occupy the ridge line stretching from Thakung on the south bank to Gurung Hill, Spanggur Gap, Magar Hill, Mukhpari, Rezang La and Reqin La (Rechin mountain pass) on August 28-30.
These heights make it possible for Indian troops to oversee the PLA’s Moldo garrison, positions and roads, and have served as an “effective counter-pressure point” for leverage in the talks between the two countries.
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