A Chinese soldier apprehended by the Indian Army at the southern bank of Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh on Friday after he transgressed across the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was handed back to China on Monday.
The capture of the soldier comes amid a massive deployment of troops by the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army(PLA) in eastern Ladakh in view of the tense border standoff that erupted following a clash between the two sides in the Pangong lake area in early May.
“The PLA soldier had transgressed across the LAC and was taken into custody by Indian troops deployed in this area. Troops from either side are deployed along the LAC since friction erupted last year due to unprecedented mobilisation and forward concentration by Chinese troops,” the Army said in a statement. “The PLA soldier is being dealt with as per laid down procedures and circumstances under which he had crossed the LAC are being investigated,” it said, adding the soldier was apprehended in the early hours of Friday.
Around four months ago, Indian troops occupied a number of strategic heights in the Mukhpari, Rechin La and Magar hill areas around the southern bank of the Pangong lake after the Chinese military attempted to intimidate them in the area on the intervening night of August 29 and 30. Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naranave last month visited various high-altitude forward areas in eastern Ladakh including certain positions on the southern bank of Pangong lake and reviewed India’s overall military preparedness.
Indian troops had captured Corporal Wang Ya Long of the PLA on October 19 last year after he “strayed” across the LAC in the Demchok sector of Ladakh. The corporal was handed back to China at Chushul-Moldo border point in eastern Ladakh following laid down protocols.
Nearly 50,000 troops of the Indian Army are deployed in a high state of combat readiness in various mountainous locations in eastern Ladakh in sub-zero temperatures as multiple rounds of talks between the two sides have not yielded concrete outcome to resolve the standoff. China has also deployed an equal number of troops, according to officials. Last month, India and China had held another round of diplomatic talks under the framework of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China border affairs.