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Chinese helicopters violated Indian airspace on April 21: Sources


Surya Gangadharan,CNN-IBN
Apr 24, 2013 at 11:22pm IST

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New Delhi: There is no let up in tension at the India, China border with China violating Indian airspace and incursions into Ladakh. Army sources said that two Chinese helicopters violated the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on April 21. The Chinese choppers entered the Indian airspace on April 21 and hovered over the area for quite sometime and returned after dropping some food cans, cigarette packets and notes written in their local language, official sources said on Wednesday.

But there has been no violation reported since. And now CNN-IBN has learnt from sources that India is trying to hold another flag-meeting. Sources add that a possible date is under discussion and the likely venue will be on the Chinese side in Spanggur Gap, Chushul.

Two previous flagged meetings between both sides have failed but the Ministry of External Affairs is downplaying the incident. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will be visiting Beijing next month. The Chinese have objected to the infrastructure build-up in Ladakh, especially roads and bridges. Khurshid maintained that "disagreements on the ground" take place because of differences in perception over the LAC. "We have a system in place which kicks in when there is an issue and then that system tries to provide a solution. That is what we are doing right now. That process is going on and I hope we will find a solution. I think we are going in the right direction," he said.

As the intruding Chinese soldiers refuse to budge from their occupied position in Daulat Beg Oldi(DBO) sector in Ladakh, two Chinese military helicopters have violated Indian airspace at Chumar, several hundred kms southeast of Leh, adding to the prevailing tension.

The incident happened five days after a platoon-strength contingent of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) had come 10 km inside the Indian territory in Burthe in the DBO sector on the night of April 15 and established a tented post there. Chumar, which is about 300 km from Leh, provides another access to Aksai Chin, an area which is under illegal occupation of China, besides from DBO.

After the incursion incident, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, a border guarding force, has beefed up its strength in the area and Army from the nearby location had increased its surveillance. Last September, Chinese helicopters flew over Chumar with some of its troops even getting onto the ground. The troops destroyed bunkers and old tents of the Indian Army before returning to their own air space.

The situation in the DBO sector, meanwhile, continued to remain tense with the PLA personnel, who have come with some dogs and vehicles, refusing to budge from the area. DBO is a strategically important position from the Army's point of view as this provides access to them in monitoring the activities of Chinese and Pakistani armies along the Karakoram Highway besides being an access point into Aksai Chin.

A General Officer in Command of an Army Division visited the area earlier this week to take stock of the situation, the sources said, adding an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle(UAV) was continuously monitoring the situation and sending pictures of the area. During a Flag meeting yesterday at Chushool, China denied having made any incursion into the DBO area and refused to vacate the place.

While the Indian side represented by Brig BM Gupta made repeated appeals for maintaining the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Chinese side led by Senior Colonel Ayan Yanti raised objections to construction of bunkers by India at Phuktsey area, 60 km from Leh, and wanted the structures to be demolished. The Chinese side maintained that the area where they have set up tented posts is part of their territory and denied any intrusion, sources said.

India asked the Chinese side at the meeting to withdraw from DBO, which is at an altitude of 17,000 feet, and revert to status quo as was before the incursion, the sources said.

With Additional Inputs from PTI

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