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Indian, Chinese soldiers injured in physical brawl near Naku La in Sikkim

Once again, there has been a physical clash between Indian and Chinese troops in the high-altitude area of Naku La in north Sikkim last week, with several injuries caused on both sides. The Army on Monday, however, said it was “a minor face-off” that took place at Naku La on January 20, which was “resolved by local commanders as per established protocols”.

Both sides held a series of diplomatic and military talks to resolve the row. However, no breakthrough has been achieved to end the standoff. Sources said the brawl at Naku La took place after Indian troops challenged the attempt by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to intrude into Indian territory. “Both sides brought in some reinforcements…there were injuries on both sides in the physical clash. But there was no firing. The situation is under control,” said a source.

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The incident came just before the ninth round of military-level talks between the neighbors over the Ladakh standoff. In the last Corps Commander-level talks held in November, the two sides had agreed to ensure that their troops exercise restraint and avoid any misunderstanding and miscalculation along the Line of Actual Control. The discussion, however, remained inconclusive.

Relations between India and China hit a new low since clashes in eastern Ladakh in June that killed 20 Indian soldiers. China is also believed to have suffered casualties but has not given any details. Both India and China have accused each other of crossing into a rival territory and of firing shots for the first time in 45 years.

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In its annual report, the defense ministry said the “unilateral and provocative” actions by the Chinese military to change the status quo by force in more than one area on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) were responded to in a “firm” and “non-escalator way”.