(Reuters) – A security assessment by Indian police in the Himalayan region of Ladakh says there could be more clashes between Indian and Chinese troops along their contested frontier there as Beijing ramps up military infrastructure in the region.
At least 24 soldiers were killed when the armies of the Asian giants clashed in Ladakh, in the western Himalayas, in 2020 but tensions eased after military and diplomatic talks. A fresh clash erupted between the two sides in the eastern Himalayas in December but there were no deaths. The assessment is part of a new, confidential research paper by the Ladakh Police that was submitted at a conference of top police officers held from January 20 to 22 and has been reviewed by Reuters.
The report said the assessment was based on intelligence gathered by local police in the border areas and the pattern of India-China military tensions over the years.
The Indian army did not respond to a request for comment but the assessment assumes significance as it was submitted at a conference attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India’s defence and foreign ministries also did not respond to requests for comment. The Chinese foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
“Given the domestic compulsions … in China and their economic interests in the region, the PLA would continue to build up its military infrastructure and skirmishes would also get frequent which may or may not follow a pattern,” the paper said, referring to China’s People’s Liberation Army.
“If we analyse the pattern of skirmishes and tensions, the intensity has increased since 2013-2014 with an interval of every 2-3 years,” it said. “With the massive infrastructure build up by PLA on Chinese side both the armies are testing each other’s reaction, strength of artillery and infantry mobilization time”.
The report also said India has been slowly losing ground to China in Ladakh as the border has been pushed inside Indian territory through the creation of buffer zones.
India and China share a 3,500 km (2,100 miles) border that has been disputed since the 1950s. The two sides went to war over it in 1962.