The Government of India's silence on the standoff at the LAC is fuelling fear and rumours in Eastern Ladakh.
Tashi Namgyal Yakzee, the councillor of Durbuk based in Shyok village, says there is panic in villages across his constituency because of heavy troop movement at night.
"My village is 120 kms away from Galwan Nalla where the Chinese have come in. Indian convoys with troops, ammunition and tanks move through villages at night. There is fear because no one knows what exactly is going on. For three days our mobile connectivity had been cut off. Villagers who work as porters for the Army were sent back on May 5," Yakzee said.
May 5 is when Tashi says trouble began. Chinese troops entered the Daulat Beg Oldie area and returned after four days. After five days, the Chinese Army surprised the Indian side by entering Pangong via three directions — Four Fingers, Hot Spring and Galwan River.
"It is difficult to say how many Chinese troops have come in. But locals living along the Pangong lake area say they have pitched tents and occupied seasonal posts. The scale of the intrusions is larger and more serious than before”
The threat of war in the middle of a pandemic is unsettling. Tashi and other councillors in the area want a government representation to come visit and calm their nerves.
Namgyal Durbuk, a resident of Durbuk and an ex-coucillor, says the Chinese strategy has always been to first sent their nomads in pasture lands of Demchok, the Finger side and others and then the People's Liberation Army (PLA) follows.
"For years, the Chinese have been eating away our grazing lands. Our army does not let us go there so the Chinese come in," he said.
Durbuk says the present standoff is the biggest danger to the country right now. "What will we do? Will we surrender our land? The Indian Army has a strong build up against the Chinese but we still fear. The government is saying nothing, all that we are getting is hava havaiye talk from social media and satellite imagery," he adds.
Chering Dorjay has just stepped down as the BJP President of Ladakh. He says Chinese incursions along the LAC in Ladakh have been happening for years but he is confident that the Modi government is not going to back off in the face of Chinese aggression.
"In the last 20-30 years, we have lost so much area in the DBO sector. Our infrastructure along the LAC is weak. The ITBP and the Army do not patrol as much as they should. The commanders want their command to pass off without any controversy which is why we are losing our zameen," Dorjay says.
Dorjay, who is based out of Leh, says that additional troops have landed at the Leh Airbase. Soldiers first need to be acclimatized before they can be deployed in forward sectors.
"If these people have come in five kilometres, the government will never tell us. I am sure backdoor diplomacy is taking place. But I wish someone in the government would say something," he adds.
Rigzin Spalbar is the former Chairman of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council and a member of the Congress party. He says in the absence of any official word from the government, there is much unsubstantiated information that is causing panic in Leh.
"It is usual for the Chinese to gradually intrude into our territory and usurp our pasture lands on which our nomads are dependent. They have intruded into Galwan Nalla and Pangong in pitch darkness. From the villages, we can see the lights from where they have pitched their camps. I request the Government of India to issue an official statement so that things get clear. We should be firm and bold so we do not lose our territory – it is important that the Chinese retreat.