Chinese troops recently violated the border in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand area and were seen camping along with arms despite the two nations having agreed to keep it a demilitarised area.
The incident took place on July 19 when a team led by Chamoli District Magistrate and others including officials from Indo-Tibetan Border Police went for a survey of Barahoti ground, official sources said.
The sources said that the civilian team was sent back by Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops, who claimed it to be their land.
The 80 square kilometre ground has been agreed by the two countries to be a disputed part since 1957 and was to be sorted out at the negotiating table by the two sides.
Over the past few years, Chinese troops have been spotted in the area and even air violations have taken place in this area, the sources said.
Chinese side had sent in a delegation on April 19, 1958 for negotiations with their Indian counterparts and both sides had agreed not to send troops into the area but had avoided a discussion on final settlement of the Barahoti ground.
The sources said that ever since this agreement, the ITBP, which mans the 3,488-km Sino-Indian border from Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast, had never entered the area with arms.
However, shepherds from both sides were allowed to enter the ground.
The Chinese troops have since the reported incursion returned even as apprehensions persisted that they may be taking undue advantage of the agreement of 1958 by pushing in their soldiers into the area which they recognise as ‘Wu-Je’.
While Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat termed the development as ‘something to worry about’ hoping that Centre will pay heed to his request for increased vigil, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said ITBP had been asked to look into the matter.
"The information is absolutely correct. The Centre has been apprised of the situation with a request to take due cognisance of the matter," Rawat said.
"Though our border with China has been largely peaceful, we have all along been seeking increase in vigilance in the area," he said.
Though confirming increased movement by Chinese troops in the area, Rawat said he was not sure whether it fell into the category of an incursion or not.
"Activity by Chinese troops has of course been sighted but whether or not it was an incursion is for the security and central agencies to decide," he told reporters.
Uttarakhand shares a 350 km boundary with China.
Reaching Barahoti, where Indian officials sighted movement by Chinese troops, is not easy as one has to go by road first to Rimkhim through Malari which is about 103 km from Joshimath in Chamoli district. An 8 km trek from Rimkhim leads to Barahoti.
Image: A signboard is seen from the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Photogrpah: Adnan Abidi/Reuters