Two new images that have gone viral have brought into unsettling focus just how volatile the Ladakh standoff is at the smallest human level of troops on the ground.
Two new images, first a video that went viral on Saturday evening, and a still photograph that exploded on Sunday, have brought into unsettling focus just how volatile the Ladakh standoff is at the smallest human level of troops on the ground.
The first image, an undated video, clearly from the banks of Ladakh's Pangong Tso -- one of the standoff points -- was released in unison across a group of anonymous handles, depicting a violent clash following a Chinese Army group arriving in a Humvee-type vehicle.
The video also shows a Chinese soldier forcibly restrained, before the Chinese group is chased back, appearing to even abandon their vehicle. The video brought cheer to an anxious social media audience looking for something to hold on to amid reports of a non-stop Chinese build-up.
Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand told reporters, "It has been brought to our notice that a video is doing the rounds in social media of an incident at the borders. The contents of the video being circulated are not authenticated. Attempt to link it with the situation on the northern borders is malafide".
"Currently no violence is taking place. Differences are being addressed through interaction between military commanders, guided by established protocols on management of borders between the two countries. we strongly condemn attempts to sensationalise issues impacting national security. The media is requested not to air visuals that are likely to vitiate the current situation on the borders," Colonel Anand added,
The second image, a still photograph or a video grab, also undated, purports to depict a clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers, where a group of the former lie injured after being restrained by the latter. There has been no official statement on the latter image.
Cropped carefully to include a bit of boat on the top-left corner, the image is likely to have been 'released' in response to the video from yesterday.
The images had been 'released' by a slew of anonymous Chinese handles.
The images are a tantalising addition to the battlefield and a reminder that information warfare asserts dominance in the absence of official information.
What the images do signal quite jarringly, is that an escalation could be a hair-trigger away - with troops dealing with proximal and difficult provocations at the patrol level. With tempers simmering, could it be just a single violation of the half-century of 'no bullets fired' that could precipitate worse?
It is this difficult volatility that perhaps explains the Army's own reluctance to see the video get a wider audience. Given that communications on the issue have been placed at the discretion of the Ministry of External Affairs, the Army has sought to contain the very real 'drama' of the standoff that has exploded to the surface from images like these two.
The Army's efforts to contain the fallout of these images, even as they go unstoppably viral online, are also because talks between India and China are indeed on at various levels of the military. (Agencies)