(AFP) – New Delhi on Friday alleged Chinese soldiers have advanced nearly 20 kilometres (12 miles) into Indian-claimed territory after intruding across the disputed border earlier this month, a report said.
Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and other military officials presented a report on the incursion to a parliamentary watchdog, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported, marking a renewal of tensions between the Asian neighbours.
Sharma also told MPs attending the meeting that India has deployed troops in the contested region to “keep a close watch on the border”, it quoted unnamed sources as saying.
India and China have an unresolved boundary dispute, and relations are often prickly and marked by mutual suspicion — a legacy of a brief border war in 1962.
A senior defence ministry official confirmed to AFP the meeting took place and that Sharma briefed MPs on the alleged Chinese advance but he did not elaborate.
“The officials told the committee that Indian army patrols reported on April 16 the presence of Chinese People’s Liberation Army pitching tents 19 kilometres inside the LAC (Line of Actual Control),” PTI quoted a source as saying.
The LAC is the de facto border that runs across the Himalayas.
The meeting came a day after Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid announced he would head for China on May 8, saying both countries had a mutual interest in not allowing the dispute to “destroy” long-term progress in ties.
A foreign ministry official also confirmed reports that the new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang would travel to New Delhi India late next month, without giving an exact date.
Lower-level talks have so far failed to break the impasse in the dispute in the western part of India-administered Kashmir’s Ladakh region.
According to officials in New Delhi, a platoon of Chinese troops set up a camp inside Indian territory on April 15.
India has since called on the Chinese soldiers to withdraw, but several meetings between local army commanders and diplomats from both sides have failed to resolve the stand-off.
China has denied any wrongdoing.
In 1962, China gave India a bloody nose in the war fought in the Himalayan regions of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.
Small incursions are not uncommon across the LAC but it is rare for either country to set up camps in disputed territory.
In recent years, the two countries have increased their military presence on each side of the border and hold frequent meetings to defuse tensions.
Despite the border tensions, trade between the Asian giants has soared in recent years.