‘A fresh face-off’ took place between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Nakula area of North Sikkim on January 20 this year and the same was resolved by local commanders as per established protocols, the Indian Army said in a statement on Monday.
India and China are locked in an eight-month-long bitter border standoff in eastern Ladakh that has significantly strained their ties. Both sides held a series of diplomatic and military talks to resolve the row. However, no breakthrough has been achieved to end the standoff.
The incident came just before the ninth round of military-level talks between the neighbours over the Ladakh standoff.
In the last Corps Commander-level talks held in November, the two sides had agreed to ensure that their troops exercise restraint and avoid any misunderstanding and miscalculation along the Line of Actual Control. The discussion, however, remained inconclusive.
Relations between India and China hit a new low since clashes in eastern Ladakh in June that killed 20 Indian soldiers. China is also believed to have suffered casualties, but has not given any details. Both India and China have accused each other of crossing into rival territory and of firing shots for the first time in 45 years.
In its annual report, the defence ministry said the “unilateral and provocative” actions by the Chinese military to change the status quo by force in more than one area on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) were responded to in a “firm” and “non-escalatory way”.
The report said Indian troops are well entrenched to counter any “misadventure” by Chinese forces and that the Indian Army is prepared for any eventuality, adding talks are also progressing to resolve the issue in an amicable manner.
Around four months ago, Indian troops occupied a number of strategic heights in the Mukhpari, Rechin La and Magar hill areas around the southern bank of the Pangong lake after the Chinese military attempted to intimidate them in the area on the intervening night of August 29 and 30. Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naranave last month visited various high-altitude forward areas in eastern Ladakh including certain positions on the southern bank of Pangong lake and reviewed India’s overall military preparedness.
Nearly 50,000 troops of the Indian Army are deployed in a high state of combat readiness in various mountainous locations in eastern Ladakh in sub-zero temperatures as multiple rounds of talks between the two sides have not yielded concrete outcome to resolve the standoff. China has also deployed an equal number of troops, according to officials.