Fear palpable among Ladakhis as India-China face-off continuous

Fear palpable among Ladakhis as India-China face-off continuous

Suhail Khan

Srinagar, June 24: People of Ladakh are worried over the ongoing dispute along the Line of Actual Control especially in the Pangong lake area, which is the prime tourist destination in the new Union Territory.
For the last six-weeks, there has been face-off between Indian and Chinese Army in Galwan valley and Pangong along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
At least 20 Indian army men were killed last week after their clash with Chinese soldiers in Galwan valley of Ladakh.
The ongoing dispute is giving sleepless nights to people of Ladakh, who are most dependent on tourism for their bread and butter.
Mohammad Sharif, who runs a jewellery shop in Leh said the tourism in Ladakh will be badly affected if the skirmishes continue along the LAC especially in Pangong.
“Pangong Lake is the prime tourist destination in Ladakh. Tourists visit Ladakh mostly to see this lake. If there is a dispute then less people will visit Ladakh,” Sharif said.
Locals said the authorities have snapped communication in the forward areas of eastern Ladakh, which has compounded the fears among the inhabitants of the Union Territory.
Tsewang Jora, a resident of Leh said they have no contact with their relatives and other people who live along the LAC. “All communications have been snapped in forward areas. We are also worried over continuous disturbance especially in Pangong on which our tourism is mainly dependent,” Jora told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).
Former Chief Executive Councilor (CEC) of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh Chering Dorjey, has said Chinese have entered eight kilometers into Union Territory from Pangong side. “Presently, it is difficult to say anything about Galwan valley although China is claiming sovereignty over it,” he had told KINS. He too expressed concern that tourism will be badly hit if this face-off continues.
The recent incidents at the Pangong area between Indian and Chinese soldiers on the LAC involve a picturesque lake.
Pangong Tso (Tso in Tibetan language means lake) is a long narrow, deep, endorheic (landlocked) lake situated at a height of more than 14,000 ft in the Ladakh Himalayas. The western end of the lake lies 54 km to the southeast of Leh. The 135 km-long lake sprawls over 604 sq km in the shape of a boomerang, and is six km wide at its broadest point.
As things stand, 45 km-long western portion of the lake is under Indian control, while the rest is under China’s control.
The Pangong Lake has become famous since Bollywood film 3 Idiots was shot there in 2009.
Over the last 11 years, the world’s highest saltwater lake has been one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ladakh, as thousands of people visit there annually.
India shares a 3,488-km border with China while Ladakh shares 646 Km of the LAC with the neighbouring country.
The China has been objecting for developing infrastructure near the LAC in Ladakh and withdrawal of Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
China is particularly concerned about a bridge that India is building across the Galwan Nallah.
The bridge according to locals is about 7.5 km from the LAC. But the Chinese have objected because they are suspicious of India’s aims on account of New Delhi’s claim over Aksai Chin.
Wang Shida, who is Deputy Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) has linked the current to India’s move last year to abrogate Article 370 and change the status of Jammu and Kashmir.
“On the Chinese side, India opened up new territory on the map, incorporated part of the areas under the local jurisdiction of Xinjiang and Tibet into its Ladakh union territory. This forced China into the Kashmir dispute, stimulated China and Pakistan to take counter-actions on the Kashmir issue, and dramatically increased the difficulty in resolving the border issue between China and India,” Shida said in a recent article.
CICIR is a Beijing-based think-tank that is affiliated to the Ministry of State Security, China’s top intelligence body.(KINS)

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