In what comes as the latest battle in the war over fake news, the Indian Army on Friday refuted claims earlier published by The Hindu news media regarding the occupying of Indian territory by invading Chinese troops in Ladakh. However, shortly after the Press Information Bureau (PIB) fact-checked the statement in the report as fake, the journalist who reported it took to Twitter to stand by her piece and defend it, thereby contradicting the central government itself.
The contention seems to have risen from the claim that The Hindu report made regarding the invasion of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops in Ladakh. Citing former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Ladakh, Thupstan Chhewang, the report claimed that "Chinese troops have further transgressed into Indian territory" and that they have "occupied positions in Finger 2 and 3 of the north bank of Pangong Tso (lake)".
"The border situation is critical," said Chhewang, as quoted by The Hindu. "The Chinese troops have not only further transgressed into our areas but they have also occupied prominent positions in Finger 2 and 3 areas of Pangong Tso, even Hot Springs area they have not fully vacated... this is what we have come to know from locals.”
Refuting the statement as fake, the Narendra Modi-run central government's internal fact-checking unit, the 'PIB Fact Check', posted on its official Twitter handle, "Indian Army refutes this statement and calls it fake. It is a #Fake news. @adgpi has refuted this statement."
ADGPI stands for the Additional Directorate General of Information of the Ministry of Defence, the PR department of the Indian Army.
However, journalist Vijaita Singh, who wrote the original report for The Hindu, later took to Twitter to defend her piece. She said, "I stand by my claim: Thupstan Chhewang, former BJP MP, Ladakh told The Hindu."
Situation in Ladakh
Notably, military delegates from India and China are scheduled to hold talks for the eighth time next week to resolve the border dispute in Eastern Ladakh.
This time, Lieutenant General P.G.K. Menon will lead the discussions from the Indian side, while Joint Secretary from the Ministry of External Affairs, Navin Srivastava, will also be part of the delegation.
Both the countries` top military commanders met seven times in a bid to resolve the six-month-long standoff along the LAC. The last meeting took place on October 12 and that too ended in a deadlock.
On August 30, India had occupied critical mountain heights on the southern bank of the Pangong Lake like Rechin La, Rezang La, Mukpari and Tabletop that were unmanned till then. India has also made some deployments near the Blacktop. The movement was carried out after the Chinese troopers tried to make a provocative military move.
Now, dominance at these 13 peaks allows India to dominate the Spangur Gap under Chinese control and also the Moldo garrison on the Chinese side.
India and China are engaged in a six-month-long standoff along the LAC. Despite several levels of dialogue, there has not been any breakthrough and the deadlock continues.
(With agency inputs)