Chinese and Indian security forces have been locked in a standoff near Bishing in Arunachal Pradesh’s Upper Siang district for more than a week, the Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday.

The standoff began after Chinese soldiers reportedly crossed into Indian territory with road building machinery in late December. Residents said that Indian security forces intercepted Chinese troops near Bishing village and seized their road construction machinery, including two excavators.

The standoff between the troops was said to have taken place around the time India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and China’s state councillor Yang Jiechi held border talks in New Delhi last month.

A person in the security establishment told the newspaper that there was “no face-off now” but the “Chinese have left their road construction material on the site”. They added: “The Chinese have increased their road construction activities in the area in the recent past.”

However, an unidentified lawyer from Arunachal Pradesh told The New Indian Express that the standoff was still on. “My friend was driving to a place which lies beyond Tuting...He was stopped by the Army, who said he cannot go further because a standoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers is on,” he was quoted as saying.

“We do not want to escalate matters and make a Doklam out of it,” The New Indian Express quoted another person as saying. “So the government has asked us not to go public.”

However, Deputy Commissioner of Upper Siang Duli Kamduk told the Hindustan Times, “Our officials in Tuting subdivision have not reported any Chinese incursion. There is no word from the armed forces too.” The Army spokesperson did not comment on the incident.

“The government’s lethargy in developing roads and bridges in Arunachal Pradesh is encouraging China to occupy Indian land as they have already built a two-lane road to the border at many points,” Vijay Taram, a lawyer and green activist from Pasighat, said.

Doklam standoff

The alleged incursion comes just months after the 74-day military standoff with China at the Doklam sector in Sikkim in 2017. The Indo-China standoff went on from June to August. The Doklam plateau is located near the tri-junction of India, Bhutan and China. Both Thimphu and Beijing claim it as their territory.

Beijing and New Delhi had both maintained that troops from the other nation had transgressed into their territory. Bilateral ties were strained after the Indian Army stopped China from constructing a road in Doklam. On August 29, India announced that it was disengaging its troops from Doklam.