Ladakh shepherds are seen arguing with PLA troops near the LAC
A group of Ladakh shepherds bravely stood up to Chinese soldiers who tried to stop them from grazing sheep near the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Local shepherds had stopped grazing animals in this area following the 2020 Galwan clash. A video of them arguing with PLA troops and asserting that they were on Indian territory has won hearts on social media.
Over the past three years, nomads in eastern Ladakh had stopped grazing animals in several areas near the LAC. This is the first time they have asserted their grazing rights in the area and forced PLA soldiers to retreat.
The LAC is a demarcation line that separates Indian and Chinese territories. Differing perceptions have led to disputes between the forces of both sides, escalating to violent clashes in some cases. In this instance, however, violence was averted.
Chushul councillor Konchok Stanzin hailed the resistance shown by the local shepherds and praised the Indian army for supporting them. "It is heartening to see the positive impact made by @firefurycorps_IA in Border areas of Eastern Ladakh in facilitating the graziers and nomads to assert their rights in traditional grazing grounds along the north bank of Pangong," he said in a post on X, adding, "I would like to thank #IndianArmy for such strong civil-military relations & looking after the interests of the border area population."
In another post, Mr Stanzin shared a link to the Instagram video of the incident, which reports say took place earlier this month.
"See how our local people are showing their bravery in front of the PLA claiming that the area they are stopping is our nomad's grazing land. PLA stopping our nomads from grazing in our territory. Seems it is never a never-ending process due to different lines of perceptions. But I salute our nomads, who always stand to protect our land and stand as the second guardian force of the nation," he wrote.
The video shows at least three Chinese armoured vehicles and several soldiers on the spot. The vehicles blare an alarm, apparently signalling the shepherds to leave. But they stand their ground and are seen arguing with the PLA troops. The shepherds insist that they are grazing on the Indian territory. On a couple of occasions, when the altercation escalates, some shepherds appear to pick up stones. But the video does not show violence breaking out. The Chinese soldiers seen in the video are not armed.
The Chushul councillor said the shepherds could bravely face the PLA troops because of the support of the Indian forces. "No doubt that our forces are always with civilians resolving the grazing issues with the PLA, it's all because of their support that our nomads could bravely face the PLA," he said.
Indian and China have been locked in a boundary dispute that has often led to skirmishes along the LAC. In a major clash at Galwan Valley in 2020, 20 Indian soldiers were killed. While China claims they lost 4 soldiers, reports say the number was much higher. Since the escalation, both sides have held multiple meetings at the military and diplomatic levels to maintain peace.
The situation along the LAC remains "stable but sensitive", Army Chief General Manoj Pande recently told news agency ANI. "In the last one year or thereabouts, we haven't had any more friction areas in this. In terms of our efforts at resolution, our talks and dialogue both at the military level as well as the diplomatic level continue with the adversary," General Pande said.