In an incident earlier this month, the Ladakhi shepherds showed extraordinary resilience in fending off the Chinese soldiers attempting an illegal incursion into Indian territory in Eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The trespassing Chinese troops accompanied by military vehicles including a Dongfeng Mengshi Light Armored vehicles equipped with a remote-controlled weapon system were spotted near patrolling points 35 and 36 at Kakjung in Nyoma constituency as per reports.
Despite facing the adversity, the local shepherds stood their ground against the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) who as usual were adhering to customary norms that sought to illegally capture the pastoral lands of Ladakhi cattle rearers.
Indian Shepherds Confronting Chinese Troops
The incident reportedly occurred on January 2, 2024 as per the information shared by user named Kunsang Namjal on Instagram. The video footage does not depict Indian Army soldiers at the site which is reported to be in Kakjung bordering the Tibet region with the constituency in Nyoma. Ishey Spalzang, the elected councilor of Nyoma underlined that the area comes under Indian jurisdiction of the LAC and is regularly accessed by local shepherds without any violation. However, the Chinese side claims the area as its own territory.
On January 13, 2024, Spalzang along with the SDM (Sub-Divisional-Magistrate) of Nyoma and military personnel conducted an on-spot verification. He asserted that there was no wrong doing from the Indian side, but acknowledged territorial dispute with the Chinese who insist that it is their land. The Ladakh Congress leader Tsering Namgyal supported the claim that the area belongs to India but expressed concern about the denial of access to Shepherds.
The video captured a confrontation between Indian shepherds and Chinese troops, with both sides filming the incident on their mobile forms and their vehicles. The footage includes a shepherd questioning the presence of Chinese soldiers and their vehicles in the area. The PLA soldiers attempted to obstruct the herders’ mobile cameras.
Tsering Namgyal pointed out the resistance of Indian civilians, who conversed with Chinese troops in the local Tibetan language. He highlighted the struggle for grazing lands and mentioned discussions between local oficials and their Chinese counterparts. Konchok Stanzin, who is a councilor from Chushul, praised the bravery of the shepherds facing the PLA. He acknowledged the ongoing challenges arising from the differing perceptions if territorial boundaries, but commended the nomads for defending their land.
Stanzin underlined the collaboration between civilians and the armed forces in addressing the grazing issues with the PLA. He acknowledged the support of the military, allowing local nomads to bravely confront the challenges posed by the Chinese forces. The situation underscores the complex nature of territorial disputes and the resilience of the local communities in sage guarding their land.
PLA Incursion Attempts
This incident similar to the previous one in 2022 when PLA soldiers obstructed Indian shepherds in the Demchok Area, However, had a different outcome as the situation was resolved through talks between military commanders without escalating into a physical altercation. The lack of demarcations along the LAC has intensified recurring disputes over traditional grazing grounds with reports suggesting that Chinese often involving spies posing as local shepherds by providing essential facilities like electricity, roads and water to villages near the LAC.
Additionally, measures like organizing medical camps and facilitating airlifts for emergencies are being implemented to ensure the wellbeing of local communities and curb Chinese influence. The infamous Chinese strategies includes allowing their cattle to graze in disputed territory and subsequently asserting ownership of lands when the cattle nd sheep herders cross into Indian territory. To prevent further disputes, the Indian Army proactively redirects the cattle to alternate pastures.
The latest incident highlights the ongoing challenges and tensions between India and China along the LAC. In the face of these challenges, the Ladakhi shepherds continue to be the unsung heroes, safeguarding Ladakh’s pastoral lands from Chinese malevolent intentions.