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China had alleged Indian drone invaded its airspace, crashed across the border

Hours after China’s claim that an Indian drone had ‘intruded’ into its airspace, India’s defence ministry said in a statement that a drone had crossed over into Chinese territory due to a technical problem and Indian border security personnel had immediately alerted their Chinese counterparts.

The cause of the incident was being investigated, the defence ministry statement said, adding that the matter was being dealt with “in accordance with established protocol”.

China had claimed that an Indian drone “invaded” its airspace before crashing across the Sino-Indian western border.

“The Indian UAV intruded into China’s airspace and crashed recently, and China’s border troops have conducted identification and verification over the vehicle,” the Xinhua report quoted deputy head of the combat bureau of the Western Theatre Command’s joint staff department, Zhang Shuili, as saying on Thursday.

“India’s move has infringed upon China’s territorial sovereignty, and we are strongly dissatisfied with and opposed to this. We will fulfil our mission and responsibility and defend China’s national sovereignty and security resolutely,” Zhang said.

The report did not provide details of when or where the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) had violated the Sino-Indian border, nor did it mention what markings the drone had, said a Hindustan Times (HT) report.

India’s Ministry of Defence issued a statement saying: “An Indian UAV which was on a regular training mission inside the Indian territory lost contact with the ground control due to some technical problem and crossed over the LAC in the Sikkim Sector.”

“As per standard protocol, the Indian border security personnel immediately alerted their Chinese counterparts to locate the UAV. In response, the Chinese side reverted with the location details of the UAV. The exact cause of the incident is under investigation. The matter is being dealt with in accordance with the established protocols through institutional mechanisms to deal with situations along the India- China border areas.”

The statement came from Col Aman Anand, according to the release.

While India has sought to be more placatory, it was significant that China made it an issue days before Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s December 11 visit to India, when such issues along with the Doklam standoff are likely to be discussed.

This comes months after the two governments finally resolved a 70-odd day standoff between border troops near the Sikkim boundary in August. There have been reports, however, that the Chine army was again increasing the number of troops at the border and has resumed the road work.

“We have seen recent reports on Doklam. There are no new developments at the face-off site and its vicinity since the August 28 disengagement. The status quo prevails in this area. Any suggestion to the contrary is incorrect,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, was reported to have said.

A report in International Business Times said China is also said to be helping Pakistan build permanent bunkers near the Rajasthan and Gujarat border. Images of these bunkers have been accessed by Aaj Tak and pictures show these structures being built in the region. About 350 of such bunkers have already been built and they are not very easy to locate as these structures have been erected using stones that cannot be spotted easily. Media reports said that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has already visited these areas to assess the situation and preparedness of Indian troops to handle it.

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