© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speaks during a joint statement with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (not pictured) following their meeting in New Delhi, India, March 20, 2021. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
By Shivam Patel and Sudipto Ganguly
NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Indian troops prevented Chinese soldiers from entering Indian territory on Dec. 9 during a border scuffle, the first such clash since 2020, that led to injuries on both sides, India’s defence minister said on Tuesday.
The incident occurred in the Tawang sector of India’s northeastern Himalayan state of Arunachal Pradesh, which borders China’s south and is also claimed by Beijing. Indian troops suffered no fatality or serious injuries, minister Rajnath Singh said.
“PLA troops attempted to unilaterally change the status quo by encroaching on the Line of Actual Control, in the Yangtse area of Tawang sector,” Singh said, referring to the People’s Liberation Army.
“Our army faced this attempt of China with firmness. A scuffle ensued in this face-off. The Indian Army bravely prevented the PLA from encroaching on our territory, and forced them to withdraw to their posts. Some soldiers from both sides were injured in the skirmish.”
China’s foreign ministry said that according to their knowledge, the situation on the border with India was generally stable.
India’s foreign minister had told parliament last week, before the latest clash, that relations with China could not go back to normal without peace on the border.
The scuffle was the first between the two countries since deadly clashes in June 2020 when Indian and Chinese troops were involved in hand-to-hand combat in the Galwan Valley of Ladakh, abutting the Chinese-held Tibetan plateau.
The incident led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese troops.
“Due to timely intervention of Indian commanders, PLA soldiers went back to their locations,” Singh told lawmakers on the latest clash, adding that the Indian commander in the area held a meeting with his Chinese counterpart on Sunday to discuss the issue.
“The Chinese side was asked to refrain from such actions and maintain peace and tranquillity along the border. The issue has also been taken up with the Chinese side through diplomatic channels.”
The un-demarcated 3,800 km (2,360 mile) frontier between the nuclear-armed Asian giants had stayed largely peaceful since a war in 1962, before the clashes two years ago sent relations nose-diving.
For long, troops on both sides have adhered to long-standing protocols to avoid the use of any firearms along the de facto border known as the Line of Actual Control.
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