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Nepal 'closely' monitoring Indian Army activities at Lipulekh

Nepal government has directed its forces to "closely monitor" the Indian Army's activities at the Lipulekh area amid escalating Indo-China border tension.

Lipulekh is the tri-junction between India, Nepal and China situated atop the Kalapani Valley in Uttarakhand. Last week, the K.P. Sharma Oli government's Ministry of Home Affairs issued the directions to the Nepalese Armed Police Force (NAPF) to start the monitoring at the tri-junction.

The 44 battalions of NAPF was deployed in Lipulekh. It has requested for long-range patrols in the forward areas fearing possibilities of escalation between India and China.

China too has increased its troop build-up at Lipulekh. There 150 Light Combined Arms Brigade is deployed at the tri-junction. The brigade was moved in last month. They have also reinforced troops in Pala, around 10 km from the border.

In July, around 1,000 troops were deployed near Pala and a permanent post was built there by China. "A fortnight back, 2,000 more additional troops were deployed at the post," sources said.

It was India's road construction to the Lipulekh area at 17,000 feet that had sparked a diplomatic row between India and Nepal with Kathmandu claiming the area as its own. The road was aimed at shortening the travel time for Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims.

Things so escalated that Nepal brought out a new political map showing the contested area as its own.

India and China, on the other hand, have been locked in a standoff since May at multiple points along the border. China had changed the status quo on the Line of Actual Control at various places, moving inside Indian territories. India has objected to it and is taking up the matter with China at all levels.

Last week itself India thwarted China's provocative military movements to change the status quo at Pangong Tso in Eastern Ladakh. This happened even when China and India were already engaged in diplomatic and military talks to resolve the disputed border issues with several skirmishes reported between the Asian giants.

In a statement, the Indian Army said that on the night of August 29 and August 30, 2020, People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in Eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo.

"Indian troops pre-empted this PLA activity on the southern bank of Pangong Lake, and undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on the ground," the force said.

Again China attempted to enter into Indian premises on August 31 which was stopped by the Indian forces.

China has built up troops, artillery, and armor in three sectors of the Line of Actual Control — western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal), and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal).

India too has increased deployment across the LAC to match China's military advances. In June, India lost 20 soldiers in Galwan Valley, as its troops were involved in a violent clash with Chinese soldiers, who too lost an unknown number of men..