There have been at least five aerial intrusions into India by Chinese helicopters in 2018, the Centre was told by the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). Choppers belonging to China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered Indian airspace in Eastern Ladakh’s Depsang and Uttarakhand’s Barahoti plains among other places, official sources told Hindustan Times on Monday, 26 March.
Two Chinese helicopters entered and stayed in Indian airspace for nearly 10 minutes in the Depsang and Barahoti sectors, approximately six kilometres across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), an official government source told Hindustan Times.
The Depsang area, which was the site of a 21-day-standoff between the Indian Army and the PLA in 2013, witnessed three intrusions in 2018 thus far, with two choppers entering the area on 27 February.
The Barahoti plains witnessed at least two intrusions, the source added. One took place on 8 March, and the other, an intrusion by two helicopters, took place on 10 March.
The government was told that the PLA has made at least 45 transgressions into India – including the five aerial ones – in the first three months of 2018, the report added.
The Indian security establishment has termed these intrusions a serious cause for concern, a senior Army commander told the Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity, adding that they deem the intrusions as an attempt by China to “emphasise its territorial claim”.
India and China also faced a tense standoff in the Doklam region in 2017.
Gautam Bambawale, India’s ambassador to China, had told a Hong Kong newspaper last week that any unilateral changes to the 3,488-km LAC would be contested by India.
(With inputs from Hindustan Times)