They were seen across the Indus river at Koyul, one of the last settlements in the Demchok sector in eastern Ladakh
Chinese nationals displayed banners in protest from across the Indus river, close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), when Indian villagers were celebrating the birthday of the Dalai Lama in Demchok in eastern Ladakh.
According to Urgain Tsewang, village head of Koyul (Kakjung), one of the last settlements in the Demchok sector, the Chinese, comprising of Army personnel and civilians, came in five vehicles down unpaved roads and raised the banners 200 metres from a community centre where the Dalai Lama’s birthday was being celebrated. The incident occurred around 11 a.m. on July 6 at Dola Tamgo in Koyul village along the Indus river.
“We don’t understand Mandarin. They had scribbled something on the banner. They stood there for about half an hour,” Mr. Tsewang told The Hindu. “The land where they stood and protested on the Dalai Lama’s birthday is our land. It belongs to India,” he stated.
Videos shared by Mr. Tsewang showed a group of men holding a long banner in red with words on it. They are also seen carrying the Chinese flag.
When contacted, Army authorities chose not to comment on the Chinese action.
Mr. Tsewang stated that 10 days ago, the Chinese also protested when the locals were setting up a solar pump.
Last Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the Dalai Lama in a phone call on the occasion on his 86th birthday. This is the first time Mr. Modi has publicly confirmed speaking with the Dalai Lama since he took over as PM in 2014.
The developments come in the backdrop of a continuing deadlock in the talks at various levels to resolve the ongoing military stand-off in eastern Ladakh. While the first phase of disengagement at Pangong Tso was completed in February, efforts to work out an agreement for the second phase of disengagement at Gogra and Hot Springs have been held up. Other frictions areas at Demchok and Depsang still remain.
A similar incident had occurred in the area in 2019 as well. In July 2019, as villagers held a local festival to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday, at least 11 Chinese men in civilian clothing came close to the LAC and raised banners from across the river bank which read, “Ban all activity to split Tibet”. The LAC in the area runs along the Indus river.