The army on Sunday confirmed that a heated confrontation took place between Indian and Chinese soldiers in north Sikkim on Saturday, resulting in injuries to troops on both sides.
The army statement came on a day Hindustan Times reported that scores of Indian and Chinese soldiers were involved in a tense face-off at Naku La in Sikkim and the scuffle left 11 soldiers injured.
“Incident of face-off as referred to in the (HT) article did take place. Aggressive behaviour by the two sides resulted in minor injuries to troops,” the statement said.
The army said “temporary and short duration face-offs” between border guarding troops do occur as boundaries are not resolved. The statement said two sides disengaged after dialogue and interaction at local level. “Troops resolve such issues mutually as per established protocols,” the statement added.
Four Indian and seven Chinese soldiers were injured during the confrontation that involved around 150 soldiers.
The Asian giants have a long-standing border dispute that led to a war in 1962. The festering feud causes around 400 face-offs every year along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The face-off at Naku La was not the first time Indian and Chinese soldiers got into a fistfight. In August 2017, Indian and Chinese soldiers threw stones at each other and also exchanged blows near Pangong Lake in Ladakh.
The clash near the LAC aggravated bilateral tensions as it happened at a time when the two neighbours were locked in a long standoff in the disputed Doklam plateau close to Sikkim.
The 73-day Doklam standoff between India and China along the Sikkim border was likely to be the new normal, the Centre for Joint Warfare Studies (CENJOWS) said in 2017, making a strong case for building military capabilities “as China respected strength.”
In a paper titled Looking Beyond Doklam, the CENJOWS, a think tank set up by the defence ministry, said it was crucial for India to demonstrate strength as peace along the disputed border will be “constantly and continuously” under stress with “increase in frequency, intensity and depth of (Chinese) transgressions leading to more and more standoffs.”
On Doklam, China had accused India of trespass and preventing its troops from building a road in the remote Himalayan plateau that is claimed by both China and Bhutan. The standoff ended with withdrawal of troops by both armies.