On 20 January 2021, a major clash broke out between Indian and Chinese troops in area of Naku La pass on LAC in Sikkim Sector. The clashes broke out after Chinese patrol ventured into Indian territory and refused to leave after being challenged by Indian soldiers. Thereafter, clashes broke out between two side leading to fierce hand to hand combat involved along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Though the official statements of Indian Army and Defence Ministry is still awaited, however, reports suggest 20 Chinese Soldiers have been critically injured while four Indian troops have also sustained major injuries.
There are two factors which make this clash more alarming than even Galwan standoff are that this clash has happened on a mutually agreed border not in any disputed area and secondly PLA troops have tried to cross the red line once again even when Ladakh standoff remains unresolved. This means that Chinese Communist Party is yet to back down or de-escalate the tension on LAC and in this situation more clashes are anticipated in future.
This fierce clash comes after China appointed General Zhang Xudong as the new commander of the PLA’s Western Theatre Command (WTC). It is also rumored that President Xi Jinping sent General Zhang Xudong to restore his prestige and teach India a lesson. However, the results of Naku La clash suggests that once again battle hardened Indian troops have given bloody nose to PLA aggressors and it might lead to another prolonged standoff on LAC.
The Naku La pass is in central Sikkim and was part of original Chinese aggressions inside India besides usually famous hotspots of Galwan, Hot Springs and Kailash range. The Chinese Army have been trying to capture the Sikkim area since 1967. From 11 September 1967 to 2 Oct 1967, Sikkim was witness to major clashes at Nathu La and Cho La involving use of artillery wherein Indian troops defeated Chinese troops just five years after 1962 debacle. Presently, both Indian Army and PLA maintains large troop concentrations near Tibet.
As per Indian Army Official Statement: It’s clarified that there was a minor face-off between Indian Army & Chinese PLA troops at Naku La, Sikkim on 20th January. It was resolved by local commanders as per established protocols.
India will have to brace for more clashes with China and will have to be militarily prepared for the same. The fresh clashes at Naku La area also rule out any diplomatic settlement in short terms as winter sets in Sini-Indian relations.