Tension mounted in a remote area of Sikkim after a scuffle broke out between personnel of the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), leading to Chinese troops damaging bunkers on the Indian side of the border.
The incident happened in the first week of June near the Lalten post in the Doka La general area in Sikkim after a face-off between the two forces, which triggered tension along the Sino-Indian frontier, official sources said.
After the scuffle, the PLA entered Indian territory and damaged two make-shift bunkers of the Army, the sources said.
After the India-China war of 1962, the area has been under the Indian Army and the ITBP, which is the border guarding force and has a camp 15km from the international border.
In a bid to defuse the tension along the LAC, the Indian Army twice asked the Chinese to join a flag meeting, which they turned down. Finally, the Chinese side agreed to a meeting on June 20.
It was then that the Chinese side conveyed to their Indian counterparts that Indian pilgrims, who were on a yatra to Kailash Mansarovar, would not be allowed to cross into Tibet, the sources said.
The pilgrims were kept waiting till June 23 after which they returned to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, which is the only region where the border between India and China is demarcated.
According to the sources, the Chinese side said a bridge had broken because of which the pilgrims could not cross into Tibet for the annual yatra.
The Sikkim route to Mansarovar, which is in Tibet, was opened in 2015.
It is not the first time that such a transgression has happened at Doka La, on the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction.
The Chinese forces had in November 2008 destroyed some makeshift Indian army bunkers there.
Earlier this year, Chinese helicopters had entered the airspace in the Barahoti area of Uttrakhand, called the middle sector. Sikkim is a part of the sector and experts have been warning the government of increased Chinese activities in this area.