Tibetan Soldier in Indian Army Killed in Weekend Incident at Contested Border with China

tibet-nyimatenzin-090220.jpg The body of Nyima Tenzin, commander of an all-Tibetan company in India's Special Frontier Force, is shown draped in the flags of India and Tibet at Sonam Ling settlement in Ladakh, India, Sept. 1, 2020.
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The commander of an all-Tibetan company in India’s Special Frontier Force was killed and another soldier was wounded by a land mine while patrolling the border with China in Ladakh in disputed eastern Kashmir over the weekend, sources in the region told RFA Tuesday.

The governments of India and China accused each other’s militaries Monday of making provocative maneuvers along the Line of Actual Control, their de-facto Himalayan border, but officials from neither country provided exact details of what had happened.

Tsetan Wangchuk, the director of Sonam Ling settlement in India’s union territory of Ladakh told RFA’s Tibetan Service Tuesday that the company commander was killed by a land mine.

“Nyima Tenzin from the Special Frontier Force has died from this confrontation and another Tibetan man from the same unit has sustained serious injuries and is currently undergoing treatment at Ladakh military hospital,” Tsetan Wangchuk, the director of Sonam Ling settlement in Leh Ladakh told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

According to Tsetan Wangchuk, Nyima Tenzin, 59, commander of a company in SFF’s 7th battalion, died in a mine blast Aug. 29, while his unit patrolled through the eastern side of the Pangong lake area. It was not known if he crossed the nearby Line of Actual Control.

The 7th battalion, also known as Establishment 22, is an Indian army unit made up entirely of Tibetans. India also refers to the unit as the “Vikas battalion.”

Nyima Tenzin’s body was brought to Sonam Ling settlement in Ladakh for cremation. The 33-year veteran of the SFF is survived by his wife and three sons.

International Incident

India on Monday accused China of breaking terms agreed to during previous military and diplomatic talks, without specifying what the People’s Liberation Army’s provocative moves on Aug. 29 were.

"Indian troops pre-empted this PLA activity on the Southern Bank of Pangong Tso Lake [in eastern Ladakh], undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on [the] ground,” New Delhi’s defense ministry said.

The unspecified incident occurred some two months after a violent confrontation between the two countries’ militaries, in which 20 Indian soldiers died and an unknown number of Chinese lost their lives.

A spokesperson for the Western Theatre Command of the PLA said the Indian soldiers had crossed the line in a “flagrant provocation.”

Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry told reporters Monday that Chinese troops “never cross the Line of Actual Control.”

Neither China nor India reported details of their weekend confrontation, nor did they reveal any casualties.

The Aug. 29 incident was the most recent in a long-running series of skirmishes in the contested region dating back to a 1962 war over the border, which India lost. Since then, both sides have placed troops in the region but agreed to terms aimed at keeping tensions from spiraling out of control, including a prohibition on soldiers carrying weapons.

But as the two current leaders of India and China, Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping have both taken more aggressive stances on foreign policy,  multiple clashes in the region have occurred during their concurrent reigns.

Reported by Lobsang Gelek for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Eugene Whong.


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