Two Chinese women shepherds crossed into Indian territory and stole 22 yaks of her father from a grazing ground last month, a head of block in Nyoma in frontier Demchok area along the Line of Actual Control has alleged.
Urgain Chodon, chairperson of the Nyoma block development council, told News18 that on September 9, her father’s 22 yaks were taken away by the Chinese women from the Dzomoling grassland, which is 7 kilometres from Demchok.
Demchok and other areas like Galwan Valley, Gogra hot springs and Pangong have been in the news over the past two years over incursion by the Chinese army. The Chinese army had attacked an Indian army unit in Galwan and killed 20 soldiers two years ago. The Indian army’s retaliation led to killing of an unspecified number of Chinese troops.
Chondon’s father, Rigzen Tangay, has been herding yaks in Demchok for decades, just like his elders. Chondon said for two days, his father kept looking for the yaks but could not find them. “He then reported the matter to Nyoma Sub-district Magistrate and gave him an application to help retrieve the animals. My father also met the Leh District magistrate and apprised him about the loss," she said. “But it has been more than a month and neither the yaks have been retrieved nor has any compensation been given to him," she said.
The officials told us there are no clear guidelines about the compensation in such cases. “My father is losing sleep over the losses he suffered," she said, sounding worried.
Tangay sounded more angry than remorseful about his “stolen" yaks. He told News 18 that he looked for the yaks for two days in the hills close to the LAC, but the Indian troops would send him back saying he is not allowed near the Lunger nullah as the LAC is patrolled by the rival troops. “I take the cattle to the grasslands in the summer, but the September 9 incident has come as a blow," he said, adding in 2017, 46 of his yaks were either stolen or strayed into the Chinese territory. “Either way it was a huge loss," he said, adding, “This season, I had 18 newborn yaks. From a total of 126, 22 are gone.”
Chondon said many farmers have in the past too reported the loss of animals, but her father decided to speak about it. He is former numberdar and sarpanch of the area. Tangay told this reporter over the phone that he is dejected because the officials are not giving him any updates.
A senior official from the area told News18 that Tangay has given his complaint. “We are making enquires about those claims and in the meantime I have forwarded his compliant to higher ups. We are also checking the veracity of his claims on the ground," he said, but refused to come on record.
Konchok Stanzin, councillor for the Chusul - an area close to the LAC, said the farmers are facing huge issues because yesteryears pastureland is becoming restriction zones due to the Chinese incursions.
“We can’t stop the yaks from crossing sides. Because there is no proper demarcation and fencing over maximum grassing areas that both sides claim, cattle and grazers tend to cross the boundary. To return the lost animals to farmers, it is important hotlines are activated. Also, nomads whose cattle are lost should be compensated," the councillor added.
In Chusul alone, three large grazing areas have been turned into “no man’s land” or “buffer zones” after Indian troops pulled back from patrolling points in Kugrang Valley.
Grazers are losing access to pastures that their cattle had depended upon for years. “Our elders tell us almost all the grasslands around these mountains were available for the flock, but now many shepherds tell me the area has shrunk for their animals. These developments have happened over the past 10 years," he said, quoting shepherds from his area. “As a result of shrinking lands, many farmers are disposing of their cattle.”