NEW DELHI: India and China held flag meetings along the line of actual control in Ladakh on Tuesday afternoon to defuse tensions at the high-altitude Burtse region, where a military stand-off had erupted on Friday evening after Indian troops demolished a watchtower-like structure built by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) there.
The flag meetings between the rival commanders were held at the border personnel meeting (BPM) points at Daulat Beg Oldi and Chushul from 3pm to 5pm, with the two sides deciding to “maintain peace”, said sources.
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As earlier reported by TOI, the two sides on Monday had somewhat moved back their troops from their forward positions at the incident site located at an altitude of 17,000 feet in the Depsang plains. Both sides had earlier rushed additional troops to the Burtse area after Indian soldiers on Friday evening had demolished the watchtower, which consisted of a camera and solar-panel mounted on a hut’s roof, after spotting it on the “border patrolling line”.
Though both sides send patrols to this line as per their “perception” of where the un-demarcated LAC lies, the mutually-accepted principle is that no new construction should come up in the disputed stretches.
Troop face-offs and “transgressions”” are quite common along the three sectors of the 4,057km LAC – western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal) – due to “aggressive patrolling” but eastern Ladakh in particular has emerged as a major flashpoint in recent years.
The Depsang Valley was also the site of the 21-day face-off between the two armies in April-May 2013 after PLA troops had intruded 19km into Indian territory. Another prolonged standoff, with around 1,000 soldiers from each side in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation at Chumar and Demchok, had taken place in September last year.