Chinese choppers spotted near LAC, IAF sends fighter jets
Last week, a couple of Chinese choppers were found flying dangerously close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, prompting the Indian Air Force (IAF) to send its fighter jets. Though the IAF called this development a "routine affair", this news assumes significance as jets were deployed just days after the Chinese People's Liberation Army and Indian troops clashed at two places.
The skirmishes happened in Sikkim and Ladakh. Security experts said this aggressive attitude could have to do with China being sidelined in the world forum over its handling of coronavirus pandemic. The virus emerged from China and has killed nearly 300,000 globally and infected 4,275,588. In fact, Chinese naval boats also entered disputed waters in the South China Sea recently.
Meanwhile, government sources told ANI, "The Chinese military helicopters were flying close to the Line of Actual Control. After their movement was picked up, the Indian Air Force fighter jets flew patrols in the area". The Chinese jets hadn't crossed over to the Indian side.
The Indian Air Force downplayed the development, advising against sensationalizing it. "China's military choppers fly in their territories and our fighter jets in our territories. It is a normal routine affair," an IAF officer told IANS. Indian planes were doing routine sortie, he said. When questioned about the aggressive attitude, the officer said a routine Standard Operating Procedure is "being sensationalized".
About the earlier clashes, India Today said the Chinese and Indian armies came face-to-face near Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh on May 5. Around 200 personnel were engaged in this fight with both sides landing blows on the other. Several soldiers from both sides suffered minor injuries, and the stand-off ended the next morning after a dialog.
A separate incident was reported from Naku La Pass in Sikkim, where at least 10 soldiers were injured. In this clash, along the Sino-India border, 150 personnel were involved. The fact that the 3,488-km-long LAC is not marked clearly like other international borders leads to such incidents. But as per established protocols, troops resolve such skirmishes with dialog.