Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Govt denies Chinese firing in North Sikkim

NEW DELHI, Sept 15 – The Ministry of External Affairs has denied reports of firing by the Chinese Army in North Sikkim, describing it as ‘factually incorrect’. The two separate denials by the MEA and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) followed reports in a national daily about the firing a fortnight ago, leading to injury of two jawans of the Central paramilitary force in the firing by Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) about 15 days ago.

“A media report about two ITBP jawans having been injured due to firing from across the LAC has come to notice. The report is factually incorrect,’’ a spokesman for the External Affairs Ministry said.

The ITBP, meanwhile, reacting to the reports stated that it is factually incorrect and baseless. No such incident of firing has taken place in north Sikkim on the Indo-China border and no member of the ITBP has been injured, the clarification said.

The daily quoting unnamed sources reported that it was the first incident where bullets were fired since the landmark 1996 Sino-India agreement in which both sides pledged not to open fire.

The report described it as yet another instance of China’s maintaining pressure on the 2.1 square km area of ‘Finger Tip’ in northern Sikkim. The Kerang shootout prompted an unscheduled border personnel meeting on August 30, it was reported.

The report quoting Army sources said People’s Liberation Army patrols have been sighted crossing over the LAC six times since January this year – four times in Upper Subansiri district in June and July, and twice in Lohit district in January in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh, recalling that Chinese continues to occupy Sumdorong Chu valley since 1986.

Despite ceremonial border personnel meetings (BPMs) at Nathu La in Sikkim and Bum La and Kibithu in Arunachal, Chinese troops continue to violate the LAC with brazen regularity, the report said.

With the ensuing visit of Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh leading the Chinese to react sharply, New Delhi is playing it safe not to provoke Beijing further. China claims 90,000 square km of India’s territory.

China has expressed strong concern about this visit. “China’s stance on the so-called Arunachal Pradesh is consistent. We firmly oppose Dalai visiting the so-called Arunachal Pradesh,” Jiang Yu, the spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, was quoted as saying.

The Dalai Lama, a Nobel Laureate, is scheduled to visit Arunachal Pradesh in the middle of November.

Last year, a delegation led by Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu had visited Dharamsala to invite the Dalai Lama to visit Tawang to inaugurate a hospital. The Dalai Lama has contributed Rs 20 lakh for its construction