The Indian Army has denied the claim of a Bharatiya Janata Party MP in Arunachal Pradesh that Chinese soldiers had built a wooden bridge almost 75 km inside Indian territory, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.

BJP state President Tapir Gao, who represents Arunachal East in the Lok Sabha, claimed the bridge was built on a stream, identified as Doimru Nallah, almost 25 km from Chaglagam in Anjaw district. The McMohan Line, which marks the border between India and China, is about 100 km from there. He said a villager who went to the woods to fish and hunt saw the bridge and sent him a video. “As a representative of that area, I could not hide it,” Gao added. He told local website that the video was shot by a BJP worker last month while he was patrolling the area with Indian soldiers.

The parliamentarian said this alleged incursion was a “regular phenomenon” and that Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers had entered other areas also.

“In 2018, when Indian patrolling party went there, they could see that PLA was there and they had constructed a tent house,” the MP told The Indian Express. “During that interaction, they resolved [the dispute] amicably, but it was very much inside the Indian territory. This time too, in the same area, on the river stream they have constructed a wooden bridge.”

When asked how he knew the Chinese had built the bridge, Gao said there were no villages close to the rivulet, and local villagers knew who built it.

However, after the news spread, the MP deleted the video from Facebook. An Indian Army official said soldiers do not take along BJP workers during patrols, Deccan Herald reported.

“The area being referred to in the report is the area of Fish Tail,” said Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand. “There are different perceptions of the alignment of the Line of Actual Control, as in many other areas. The terrain is thickly vegetated and all movements are undertaken on foot along nalas [rivulets] and streams. During monsoons whenever the nalas are in spate, temporary bridges are constructed by the patrols for their movement.”

Colonel Anand said since the area was claimed by both sides “troops routinely from either side patrol the area” and “civilian hunters and herb collectors also frequent there during summer months”. He added: “There is no permanent presence of either Chinese soldiers or civilians in the area, and surveillance is maintained by our troops.”

Meanwhile, China on Wednesday said the next round of border talks with India under the “special representatives” mechanism had been postponed, Hindustan Times reported.

Senior officials from the two countries were expected to meet later this month in New Delhi for the 22nd round of dialogue to resolve long-standing disputes over the 3,488 km border.

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