NEW DELHI: The ongoing Sino-Indian tension shifted from land to social media on Sunday with leaks of a video and a photo purportedly of clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh on 5-6 May night.
“The contents of the video being circulated are not authenticated. Attempt to link it with the situation on the northern borders is malafide,” the Army said.
Ever since troops of the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army clashed on the northern flank of the Pangong Tso Lake, the PLA has entered areas that are inside the Indian claim line.
A video showing a large number of Indian security personnel on the banks of a lake appeared on Twitter.
The personnel were seen shouting and pointing towards a hill with a person, supposedly a PLA soldier, lying on the ground, and an Indian security person shielding him.
In the next sequence, people start shouting slogans. Both the Indian Army and Indo Tibetan Border Police have a presence in the area.
Soon after, two Twitter handles shared a photo of Indian soldiers badly hurt and with legs of some of them tied with rope. Twitter handle @OedoSoldier tweeted it around afternoon, which was picked up by @dafengcao and it went viral. The two handles have contents largely associated with the PLA, China, which led to suspicion.
China has its own local social media platform Weibo as Twitter is not open for public there. Chinese nationals can use it only if they have special permission.The experts feel it is a leak with tacit approval from the government of China. So, a particular photograph reaching the Weibo first and then appearing on Twitter is part of the psychological warfare.
Social media can be exploited by inimical elements during sensitive and challenging situations and events like the ongoing standoff. Because of the outreach of social media, it has a spiral effect in an action-reaction situation like this feels Lt Gen (retd) Vinod Bhatia.
“It is to make sure crisis remains and allegations and counter-allegations start as part of the information warfare,” Bhatia, director of the Centre for Joint Warfare Studies, said.
A few days back a video of movement of armoured vehicles and missile trucks, said to be PLA towards Ladakh, was also released on Twitter handles which release Chinese military videos.
Experts said Chinese aggression is not limited to LAC as it has turned aggressive in the South China Sea too.
“These acts of aggression could be the reflection of the internal state of the country,” said Debashish Chaudhuri, visiting fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies.