Border Residents in India's Ladakh Demand Safe Shelter as Faceoffs With China Worsen

© Photo : Konchok StanzinBorder Residents of Chushul, Ladakh
Border Residents of Chushul, Ladakh - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.10.2021
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India and China have been accusing each other of escalating border tensions by encroaching on each other's territory in the western sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). However, border residents of India's Ladakh region say they have lost access to a vast grazing area after a disengagement agreement with China.
Residents of Chushul, a border village located south of Pangong Tso - the epicentre of a violent clash between the Indian Army and Chinese troops in 2020 - have contradicted claims made by the Indian government that it did not cede land to China.
People in Chushul also said that China did not follow a disengagement agreement reached between the Indian Army and People's Liberation Army in August of this year, either in letter or spirit. The LAC with China runs 5 miles east of Chushul.

"We have been witnessing faceoffs at regular intervals… We never saw this kind of situation at borders. It is almost a war-like situation which creates insecurity among us", Konchok Stanzin, a public representative from Chushul, told Sputnik.

Stanzin has joined several other public representatives of border villages in Ladakh in putting before the Indian government a demand for land in Leh, more than 200km from Chushul - something they never imagined having to do before the continuing standoff between the armies of India and China.
"Last year, the situation was scary as we had to leave our villages and were living in the open for some time. The army said they would construct personal bunkers in each house as we see in the villages along the border with Pakistan", Stanzin added.
New Delhi has built 18,460 individual and community bunkers to protect the border residents of Jammu and Kashmir from shelling during tensions between India and Pakistan.

"This is the first time the army will construct individual or community bunkers for people living near the LAC. But this promise does not instill confidence among villagers. We are going through a horrible phase. The government should allocate alternative land in Leh to provide a safe shelter for border residents during the war-like situation", Stanzin added.

Another councillor from a nearby area, who does not wish to be named, claimed that the Chinese presence increases daily with additional military assets.
"As public representatives we receive complaints from villagers that the army stopped them from going to areas that were easy for them to get to a few months back", the councillor said.
Public representatives claimed that India has lost a considerable amount of land after disengagement as the military commanders of the two armies agreed to create a buffer zone in Gogra.
"A buffer or disputed zone has been created on our land, and the Chinese have not lost access to their areas", Stanzin underlined.
© Photo : Konchok Stanzin

Border residents submitted a range of demands to Indian government officials in September 2021.

Border residents submitted a range of demands to Indian government officials in September 2021. - Sputnik International
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Border residents submitted a range of demands to Indian government officials in September 2021.

© Photo : Konchok Stanzin

Chushul - a border village in India's Ladakh.

Chushul - a border village in India's Ladakh. - Sputnik International
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Chushul - a border village in India's Ladakh.

© Photo : Konchok Stanzin

Ladakh residents take part in a tourism festival in September 2021.

Ladakh residents take part in a tourism festival in September 2021. - Sputnik International
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Ladakh residents take part in a tourism festival in September 2021.

© Photo : Konchok Stanzin

Ladakhi people perform a traditional dance.

Ladakhi people perform a traditional dance. - Sputnik International
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Ladakhi people perform a traditional dance.

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Border residents submitted a range of demands to Indian government officials in September 2021.

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Chushul - a border village in India's Ladakh.

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Ladakh residents take part in a tourism festival in September 2021.

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Ladakhi people perform a traditional dance.

The public representative has provided details about the areas where India lost access, and Gogra is one of them.
During the 12th round of talks between the Corps Commanders of India and China held on 31 July 2021 at Chushul Moldo, it was agreed that a buffer zone be created where no patrolling will take place for the foreseeable future by either India or China.
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Villagers also expressed anger before government officials on several times, including during a visit by parliamentary panel members in September over the lack of development works.
"The Chinese have been building a road at the rate of one kilometre a day whereas it takes us years to complete 30km to 40km of roads in our area", Stanzin said.
"The 95km-long road from Tangtse Harong to Chushul has been under construction since 2012. People expect fast-paced counter-development from our side as well", he emphasised.
The Indian news agency PTI reported that China has put up modular container-based accommodation for its troops in at least eight places near Tashigong, Manza, Hot Springs, and Churup, among others, "in reflection of simmering tensions between the two sides in the region".
The Indian Army has also deployed more sophisticated artillery to the LAC with China in eastern Ladakh.
The tensions between the two armies escalated to an unprecedented level in June 2020 when 20 Indian soldiers and four members of the People's Liberation Army were killed in a violent clash in the Galwan Valley. The two sides have opened several channels to ease the tensions along the border. Still, deadlock persists over a range of issues, including accusations by each side about encroachment on land made by the other.
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