NEW DELHI, India – Indian troops prevented Chinese soldiers from entering its territory last Friday during a border scuffle that led to injuries on both sides, according to India’s defense minister.
The incident occurred in the Tawang sector of India’s northeastern Himalayan state of Arunachal Pradesh that borders China’s south and is also claimed by Beijing – marking the first such a clash since 2020 between the Asian giants.
The Indian troops “illegally crossed the line to block” a routine patrol of Chinese border troops, a spokesperson from the Western Theatre Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said on Tuesday, as Reuters reported.
“We urge the Indian side to strictly control and restrain the front-line troops, and work with China to maintain peace and security on the border,” the spokesperson said.
An Indian defense source told Reuters that patrolling teams from both sides came face-to-face at one of the peaks and in an ensuing hand-to-hand fight, some soldiers fell on the rocky surface and injured themselves.
The defense source said the un-demarcated border, called the Line of Actual Control (LAC), means soldiers from both sides cross over into each other’s territory every now and then.
“Sometimes we perceive some areas as ours, sometimes they do,” said the source, declining to be named as Defense Minister Rajnath Singh had already issued a statement in parliament about an attempt by the PLA to enter Indian territory.
“These are skirmishes that keep happening, and they are not major. This was not major.”
Singh told lawmakers that the scuffle led to “injuries to a few personnel on both sides” but there were no “serious casualties on our side”.
“PLA troops tried to transgress the LAC in Yangtse area of Tawang Sector and unilaterally change the status quo,” Singh said.
“The Chinese attempt was contested by our troops in a firm and resolute manner. The ensuing face-off led to a physical scuffle in which the Indian Army bravely prevented the PLA from transgressing into our territory and compelled them to return to their posts.”
Meanwhile, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a news conference that the situation at the border was “generally stable”, as Reuters wrote.
The un-demarcated 3,800 km frontier between the nuclear-armed Asian giants had stayed largely peaceful since a war in 1962, before the clashes two years ago sent relations nose-diving.