Just after the recent India-China standoff over Doklam across the Sikkim border at the northeastern sector during mid-June this year, there is another report indicating heightened Chinese activities in two Himachal Pradesh districts neighboring to the barren Tibetan region and the mountainous parts where Beijing is building infrastructures like roads and buildings across international borders.
Chinese helicopters, increased road-building and other construction activities were spotted across the border by the residents of the remote district villages of Kinnaur as well as Lahaul and Spiti.
Three battalions of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) are maintaining invariable vigilance after the Doklam faceoff that took place in mid-June on the border with northeastern side with China. 260kms long porous border has been shared by Himachal Pradesh on the eastern border with China.
“Though we have been seeing construction activities for the past year, there has been a marked acceleration in the past four months,” said a government official who does not want his name to be disclosed.
There is a village named Shaktot which is about 5km from the Indian border point of Kaurik. Chinese constructions can be seen from this village, which is the last village situated beyond Sumdoh. Nearly 190km from Kaurik, China also has an airfield at Lupsuk.
Kinnaur shares a 140km long border with China, and 80km lies in Lahaul and Spiti district.
“We have stepped up vigilance along the China border in Himachal,” said a security officer according to HT.
There are 20 outposts, including the high-security camp at Kaurik in Himachal guarded by the paramilitary ITBP.
The annual cross-border trade, that begins in the last week of June and ends in November, has been majorly affected by the standoff which used to take place through traditional mountain trails and passes.
52 applicants are been approved with the trade permit by the local administration this year, but have not yet received permission to go to China for trade. “There is no clarity when it will start,” said Hishey Negi, president of the Kinnaur India-China trade association.
Merchants have been crossing the Shipki La mountain since very long time for trading with Tibet. Shipki La mountain pass is situated at a high altitude of 5670 meters. Sutlej enters India from Tibet through this pass.
After the India-China war in 1962, this route was closed and reopened when the two countries signed a trade protocol in 1994.
There are also some more mountain passes, including Lepcha La, Rang La, and Ranisha Dob Rang. And between the passes, there are transit routes that villagers use to cross over to meet relatives across the border.
So the standoff is definitely hampering the trade conditions for the locals putting them under certain losses. And the sudden increase in the infrastructural activities by Beijing, it gives the army the reason to multiply their securities.