Outlook|July 06, 2020
AS the Indian Air Force jets hover over Leh, capital city of newly created Union territory Ladakh, there is deafening silence on the ground in the cold desert. Amid the roar of fighter jets and unprecedented security build up in Ladakh, the police are not allowing anyone to move in the streets of Leh citing COVID-19 restrictions. There has been a steep rise in coronavirus cases in Ladakh over the past one week, forcing the government to resume the lockdown. However, the border tension following deadly clashes between Indian and Chinese soldiers on June 9 looks more worrisome than the pandemic.
“China carries out aggressive acts every year, but they have crossed all limits this time,” says a shopkeeper in the main market of Leh. Many politicians in the city argue that the Chinese will not stop here if they are not pushed back. “They have taken our cultivated land, our grazing land, and if they are not stopped, it is not going to end,” warns Rigzin Spalbar, former chairman of the Ladakh Hill Development Council. Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal asks, “If we know ‘Azad Jammu Kashmir’ as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), why not to call Aksai Chin ‘China-occupied Aksai Chin’?”
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July 06, 2020