India will take every step to protect its interests: Defence Minister AK Antony on China incursion in Ladakh

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New Delhi:  More than a dozen Chinese soldiers  continue to be stationed  a remote camp some 10 kilometres (6 miles) within Indian territory  in Northen Ladakh.  

"India will take every step to protect its interests," Defence Minister AK Antony said today.  

The Indian army set up its own temporary camp just 500 meters (1600 feet) from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers after the incident on April 15.  "On April 17, 5th Battalion of Ladakh Scouts was sent to the sector to take on the PLA challenge and they are also camping there now," a senior official said to Reuters.

The assessment  in the Indian government is  that the Chinese will eventually withdraw but will use this 'occupation' to lay claims to the area at a later stage of border negotiations.

Top sources told NDTV that 15 to 20 soldiers of the People's Liberation Army  continue to be stationed in tents pitched in open ground in Indian territory.

China has denied its troops crossed into Indian territory. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, "Our troops are patrolling on the Chinese side of the actual line of control and have never trespassed the line."  (Read)

Small incursions are common across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border that runs some 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles) across the Himalayas, but it is rare for either country to set up camp so deep within disputed territory.

The two countries hold frequent meetings to diffuse tensions, but high-level talks to resolve the dispute have not produced results.

The latest incident took place at Daulat Beg Oldie, where India established a landing strip during the 1962 war. At 5,100 meters (16,700 feet), the strip is one of the world's highest. It was reopened in 2008.

Last week, a meeting between an Indian team led by a Brigadier-level officer and a senior Colonel from the Chinese side failed to break the deadlock.  Although the Indians have asked for another delegation-level meeting with the Chinese, there has been no response to the proposal yet.



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