China has needled India yet again. This time over His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday celebrations in Ladakh. Officials have confirmed to CNN-News18 that on July 6, Chinese army entered the Indian territory in Demchok with banners and objected to locals celebrating His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday. “The incident happened on July 6 at Doley Tango near Koyul which is around 30 kilometers southeast of Demchok," a source told news18.
In videos which have now surfaced, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) can be seen standing across river Indus with banners. A second video shows villagers holding the Dalai Lama’s portrait atop a vehicle as a small cavalcade rallies around the village. Officials said while the festivities were on, Chinese kept a vigil from distance and conveyed their objection. “They didn’t enter the village but did transgress a bit into Indian territory,” an official told News18.
According to officials, Chinese troops stayed on the Indian territory for about 30 minutes. At least five vehicles can be seen in the video. Locals said Chinese troops were accompanied by civilians.
The banner that Chinese carried said, “Tibetans living on the other side of the LAC bordering India are fully supported by the Chinese,” a source said. Another officer told News18 that the Chinese were reiterating their oft-repeated message that Tibet and China are one.
India and China have been locked in a dispute over eastern Ladakh since the Galwan incident of June 2020. While India at commander level talks has sought restoration of status quo as it existed pre-April 2020, the Chinese side have refused to discuss Demchok and Depsang flashpoints, according to officials. Two sides have had 11 rounds of military talks to resolve the eastern Ladakh flashpoints but friction points remain over Gogra, Hot springs, Demchok and Depsang.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had greeted the Dalai Lama on his 86th birthday last week. Since becoming Prime Minister in 2014, this is the first time Narendra Modi has openly confirmed communicating with the Dalai Lama.
In a tweet on Tuesday morning, PM Modi said, “Spoke on phone to His Holiness the @DalaiLama to convey greetings on his 86th birthday. We wish him a long and healthy life."