Demchok sector

The Demchok[a] sector is a disputed area named after the villages of Demchok, Ladakh and Dêmqog, Tibet, situated near the confluence of the Charding Nullah and Indus River. It is a part of the greater Sino-Indian border dispute between China and India. Both China and India claim the disputed region, with a Line of Actual Control between the two nations situated along the Charding Nullah.[b]

Parigas region
Simplified Chinese地区
Demchok sector is located in Kashmir
Demchok sector
Demchok relative to Kashmir
Demchok sector is located in Tibet
Demchok sector
Demchok relative to Tibet

The Charding Nullah was mentioned by the name "Lhari stream" in a treaty between the Kingdom of Ladakh and the Ganden Phodrang government of Tibet in 1684 and stated as the boundary between the two regions. British surveys placed the border in 1847 between the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and Qing Tibet on the stream, while British maps from 1868 onwards placed the border downstream and west of Demchok. After independence in 1947, India claimed the southern watershed of the river (roughly 3 miles southeast of Demchok) as its boundary, which has been contested by the People's Republic of China whose claims coincide with the British maps. The two countries fought a brief war in 1962, after which the Demchok region has remained divided between the two nations across a Line of Actual Control.


The Demchok sector with China's claim line in the west and India's claim line in the east. The Line of Actual Control, shown in bold, runs along the Charding Nullah and the Indus River till its confluence with the Chibra stream, then heads to the mountain watershed in the east.

At the bottom of the valley, the Charding Nullah branches into a 2 km-wide delta as it joins the Indus River.[3] During the British colonial period, there was a village on both the sides of the delta, going by the name Demchok. The southern village appears to have been the main one, frequently referred to by travelers.[4][5] The Chinese spell the name of the village as Dêmqog. Travel writer Romesh Bhattacharji stated in 2012 that they expected to set up a trading village, but India never renewed trade after the war. He stated that the southern Dêmqog village has only commercial buildings whereas the northern village has security-related buildings.[6] Both the Indians and the Chinese have track roads going up the valley on the two sides of the Charding Nullah, reaching up to the Charding–Nilu Nullah Junction (CNNJ). Occasional stand-offs between the two forces at CNNJ are reported in the newspapers.[7]

The watershed east of the Koyul Lungpa river, near the village of Koyul, is at the western boundary of the disputed sector,[8] with China's claim line running along the crest of the ridge.[citation needed]

Modern Chinese sources refer to the disputed area around Demchok as Parigas (Chinese: 巴里加斯; pinyin: Bālǐjiāsī)[9][10][c] or the Parigas region (Chinese: 巴里加斯地区; pinyin: Bālǐjiāsī dìqū).[11][12] It is apparently named after the Tibetan name Palicasi (Tibetan: པ་ལི་ཅ་སི, Wylie: pa li ca si) of an insignificant camping site that is known to Ladakhis as Silungle.[13][14][d] Chinese sources describe the disputed territory as having a total area of 1,900 square kilometres (730 sq mi) with India controlling 450 square kilometres (170 sq mi) of its southwest corner, west of Dêmqog and the Indus River.[9][10][11]


Treaty of Tingmosgang (1684)Edit

Ladakh's territories prior to the Treaty of Tingmosgang, depicted by August Hermann Francke

The Ladakh Chronicles (La-dvags-rgyal-rabs) mention that, at the conclusion of the Tibet–Ladakh–Mughal War in 1684, Tibet and Ladakh agreed on the Treaty of Tingmosgang, by which the extensive territories in West Tibet (Ngari) previously controlled by Ladakh were removed from its control and the frontier was fixed at the "Lha-ri stream at Demchok".[15] The original text of the Treaty of Tingmosgang is now lost.[16][17] The traditional border between the two regions prior to these conflicts is not clearly known.[e]

Roughly 160 years after the Treaty of Tingmosgang, Ladakh came under the rule of the Dogras, who launched an invasion into the West Tibet leading to the Dogra–Tibetan War. The war ended in a stalemate. The resulting Treaty of Chushul in 1842 bound the parties to the "old, established frontiers".[19]

British boundary commission (1846–1847)Edit

Map of Ladakh, Edward Weller, 1863

After the Dogras joined the British suzerainty as the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the British government dispatched a boundary commission consisting of P. A. Vans Agnew and Alexander Cunningham to define the borders of the state with Tibet in 1846–1847.[20][f] The Chinese government was invited to join the effort for a mutually agreed border. However the Chinese declined, stating that the frontier was well-known and it did not need a new definition.[22] The British boundary commission nevertheless surveyed the area. Its report stated:

[Demchok] is a hamlet of half a dozen huts and tents, not permanently inhabited, divided by a rivulet (entering the left bank of the Indus) which constitutes the boundary of this quarter between Gnari ... [in Tibet] ... and Ladakh.[23]

The "rivulet" is evidently the Charding nullah. The Tibetan frontier guards prohibited the commission from proceeding beyond the rivulet.[23] The commission placed the border on the Indus at Demchok, and followed the mountain watershed of the Indus river on its east, passing through the Jara La and Chang La passes.[24] This appears to be the first time that the watershed principle was used in the Indian subcontinent for defining a boundary.[25][g]

Kashmir Atlas (1868)Edit

Kashmir Atlas boundary of the Demchok sector (Geographic Service of the French Army, 1909)

Between 1847 and November 1864, the British Indian government conducted the Kashmir Survey (Survey of Kashmir, Ladak, and Baltistan or Little Tibet), whose results were published in a reduced form in the Kashmir Atlas of 1868 by the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India.[26][27][28] Even though this was not an official boundary delimitation, the atlas made several adjustments to the boundary, including in the Demchok sector. Lamb states:

Where [Cunningham] had put the boundary actually at Demchok, the Kashmir Atlas (Sheet 17) put it about sixteen miles downstream on the Indus from Demchok, thus coming nearer to the [present] Chinese than the Indian claim line.[29]

It is unclear who decided the altered boundary and on what grounds, given that team-leader T. G. Montgomerie was of the view that Demchok was in Ladakh.[h] Indian commentators blame it on the rudimentary knowledge of the British surveyors about Ladakh — they were ignorant of past treaties as well as revenue records, and mistook pasture disputes as boundary disputes.[32][33][i] In contrast, Lamb interprets this as a "compromise" wherein the British gave up territory in Demchok to include other territory near the Spanggur Lake.[34]

Late colonial era (1868–1947)Edit

Subsequent to the Kashmir Atlas of 1868, there was a flood of British publications on Ladakh.[j] Despite, no revisions were made to the border at Demchok and according to Lamb, the majority of British maps published between 1918 and 1947 reproduced the Kashmir Atlas, slotting Demchok within Tibet.[37]: 39  During the two World Wars, some maps from world powers (including China) showed the same borders.[38]

Independent of imperial cartography, the traditional boundaries continued to be followed in ground. The Kashmir government disregarded the British maps and the Tibetan claims to Demchok seem to have persisted.[k] Lamb states, "by the time of the Transfer of Power in 1947 nothing had been settled."[40]

Modern claimsEdit

Since the 1950s, Indian maps do not agree entirely with either the 1846–1847 survey or the 1868 Kashmir Atlas: the Indian claims lie 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Demchok, whereas the 1846–1847 British boundary commission placed the border through the middle of Demchok, and British maps from the 1860s onwards showed the border to be 10 miles (16 km) west of Demchok.[37]: 48  The Chinese claims coincide with British maps that placed the border 10 miles (16 km) west of Demchok.[37]: 39, 48  The Chinese claims also coincided with the borders used by the 1945 National Geographic and 1955 United States Army Map Service maps.[18]: 152

Prior to the Sino-Indian War of 1962, India had established a border post to the south of the delta (the "New Demchok post"). As the war progressed, the post was evacuated and the Chinese forces occupied it.[41][42] It has also been referred to as "Lari Karpo" ("white lhari") and "Demchok Lari Karpo" in Tibetan documents.[43][l]

After the 1962 Sino-Indian War, the village of Demchok was divided in two parts, with Demchok, Ladakh administered by India and Dêmqog, Tibet Autonomous Region administered by China.[45][46] The split did not divide any of the resident families.[45]

Sources vary on whether the larger sector is administered by China or India.[47]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Also called Parigas.[1]
  2. ^ On 21 September 1965, the Indian Government wrote to the Chinese Government, complaining of Chinese troops who were said to have "moved forward in strength right up to the Charding Nullah and have assumed a threatening posture at the Indian civilian post on the western [northwestern] side of the Nullah on the Indian side of the 'line of actual control'." The Chinese Government responded on 24 September stating, "In fact, it was Indian troops who on September 18, intruded into the vicinity of the Demchok village on the Chinese side of the 'line of actual control' after crossing the Demchok River from Parigas (in Tibet, China)..."[2]
  3. ^ During discussions in the 1960s, the Chinese government called the Indian village "Parigas" and the Chinese village "Demchok":
    • Report of the Officials, Indian Report, Part 1 (1962). Chinese officials state: "Parigas was part of the Demchok area. West of Demchok, after crossing the Chopu river, one arrived at Parigas."
    • India. Ministry of External Affairs, ed. (1966), Notes, Memoranda and Letters Exchanged and Agreements Signed Between the Governments of India and China: January 1965 - February 1966, White Paper No. XII (PDF), Ministry of External Affairs – via "In fact, it was Indian troops who on September 18, intruded into the vicinity of the Demchok village on the Chinese side of the 'line of actual control' after crossing the Demchok River from Parigas..."
  4. ^ Silungle is located at 32°46′05″N 79°21′32″E / 32.768°N 79.359°E / 32.768; 79.359 on the bank of the Silung stream that joins the Indus river from the left. It is conventional in the Ladakhi language to name camp sites on the streams they are situated on.
  5. ^ A. H. Francke, who first studied the history of West Tibet believed that, when the West Tibetan kingdom of Kyide Nyimagon was divided among his three sons c. 930, the borders of Ladakh (then called Maryul) stretched up to the Sengge Zangbo river valley. This is echoed by Wim van Eekelen, who has stated that the treaty border was "based on a partition effected in the 10th century".[18]: 8  This is contested by other historians. It is unlikely that the borders remained unchanged up to the 17th century.
  6. ^ Agnew and Cunningham were assisted by Henry Strachey, who later became a notable explorer in his own right. Agnew and Cunningham were told to "bear in mind that, it is not a strip more or less of barren or even productive territory that we want, but a clear and well defined boundary in a quarter likely to come little under observation".[21]
  7. ^ Cunningham remarked: "In laying down a boundary through mountainous country it appeared to the Commissioners desirable to select such a plan as would completely preclude any possibility of further dispute. This the Commissioners believe they have found in their adoption as a boundary of such mountain ranges as form water-shed lines between the drainages of different rivers."[25]
  8. ^ While describing the travels of pundit explorers under his employ, Montgomerie writes, "Here they waited for the 3rd Pundit, who joined them on the 29th of September, after having traced the Indus down to Demchok, in Ladak." (emphasis added.)[30] He also notes that the coordinates of Demchok were fixed during the regular survey operations in Ladakh.[31]
  9. ^ Also, the British felt Gulab Singh to be an "expansionist" and distrusted his pleadings.[32]
  10. ^ In 1875, Frederic Drew published his now-seminal Jammoo and Kashmir Territories in 1875 while the text of the Ladakh Chronicles, first discovered by Cunningham in 1847, was published by missionary Karl Marx between 1891 and 1902.[35][36]
  11. ^ Claude Arpi narrates the description of a murder inquiry in 1939, conducted by the British Trade Agent in Gartok and the governor of Ladakh (wazir-e-wazarat) jointly with the Tibetan officials (garpons). The Indian officials travelled from Leh to Demchok for this purpose, where they camped at the Lhari stream, described as "a natural boundary between Tibet and Kashmir at Demchok".[39]
  12. ^ Scholars translate the Tibetan term lha-ri as "soul mountain". Many peaks in Tibet are named lhari including a "Demchok lhari" in the northern suburbs of Lhasa.[44]


  1. ^ Parigas, India
  2. ^ India. Ministry of External Affairs, ed. (1966), Notes, Memoranda and Letters Exchanged and Agreements Signed Between the Governments of India and China: January 1965 - February 1966, White Paper No. XII (PDF), Ministry of External Affairs – via
  3. ^ Claude Arpi, Demchok and the New Silk Road: China's double standard, Indian Defence Review, 4 April 2015. "View of the nalla" image.
  4. ^ Lange, Decoding Mid-19th Century Maps of the Border Area (2017), p. 353: 'At present officially located in India, the village of Demchok marked the border between Tibet and Ladakh for a long time. Abdul Wahid Radhu, a former representative of the Lopchak caravan, described Demchok in his travel account as "the first location on the Tibetan side of the border".'
  5. ^ Report of the Officials, Indian Report, Part 3 (1962), pp. 3–4: According to a report by the governor of Ladakh in 1904–05, "I visited Demchok on the boundary with Lhasa. ... A nullah falls into the Indus river from the south-west and it (Demchok) is situated at the junction of the river. Across is the boundary of Lhasa, where there are 8 to 9 huts of the Lhasa zamindars. On this side there are only two zamindars."
  6. ^ Bhattacharji, Ladakh (2012), Chapter 9: "Changthang: The High Plateau".
  7. ^ India, China admit to intrusion by Chinese herdsmen, Gulf News, 28 July 2014.
  8. ^ Mehra, Parshotam (1989), Negotiating with the Chinese, 1846-1987: Problems and Perspectives, with an Epilogue, Reliance Publishing House, p. 225, ISBN 978-81-85047-46-1: "[The claim line] crosses the Shangatsangpu (Indus River) at 33 degrees north Latitude, runs along the watershed east of the Koyul Lungpa River and South of the Hanle River up to Mount Shinowu..."
  9. ^ a b "中国对印战略:装甲集团沿三线突击两日可抵新德里" (in Chinese). Sina News. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2020. 西线巴里加斯印度控制450平方公里(我军曾对部分地区前出巡逻设防),主要位于狮泉河、典角村以西和班公湖西段。[West of the Line, India controls 450 square kilometers of Parigas (our army used to patrol and defend some areas), mainly located in Shiquan River, west of Dêmqog Village and west of Pangong Lake.]
  10. ^ a b "印度防长:要让巴付出代价 已炮击2万发炮弹" (in Chinese). Hunan Daily. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2020. 巴里加斯(Parigas),是中国和印度西部边境中的一块争议领土,面积约1900平方公里,包括基古纳鲁河、乌木隆、碟木绰克(Demchok), 果洛等地区。[...] 巴里加斯中国固有领土,位于西藏阿里噶尔县西北 [Bālǐ jiā sī (Parigas) is a disputed territory on the western border between China and India. It covers an area of approximately 1,900 square kilometers, including areas such as the Kigunaru River, Umlung, diǎn jiǎo (Demchok), Guoluo, and other areas. [...] Parigas, China's inherent territory, is located in the northwest of Gar County in Tibet.]
  11. ^ a b "典角村,固有領土的見證,如今,600米外駐紮印軍" (in Chinese). Headline Daily. 11 June 2020. Retrieved 19 July 2020. 1955年,進一步蠶食巴里加斯地區,如今,印度控制巴里加斯西南角即獅泉河(森格藏布)與卓普河(典角曲)以西大約450平方公里 [In 1955, the Indian army further encroached on the Parigas district. Today, India controls about 450 square kilometers west of the Shiquan River (Seng Zangbo) and the Zhuopu River (Dêmqog Village) in the southwest corner of Parigas]
  12. ^ Fang, Jianchang (17 June 2020). "房建昌:近代中印西段边界史略" (in Chinese). Retrieved 8 August 2020. 其中除了一块很小的巴里加斯(Parigas)地区在本世纪50年代中期被印度侵占以外,其余地区始终在我控制之下,由西藏的日土县(1960年前为宗)管辖。[Except for the small 巴里加斯 (Parigas) area which was invaded by India in the mid-1950s, the rest of the area was always under China's control and under the jurisdiction of Tibet's (pre-1960) Rutog County.]
  13. ^ Tibetmap 3279, July 2009, retrieved 18 May 2022.
  14. ^ Ngari Prefecture, KNAB Place Name Database, retrieved 18 May 2022.
  15. ^ * Francke, Antiquities of Indian Tibet, Part (Volume) II (1926, pp. 115–116): "Regarding Mnah-ris-skor-gsum Mi-pham-dban-po's stipulations were to this effect :— [...] With this exception the boundary shall be fixed at the Lha-ri stream at Bde-mchog."
  16. ^ Lamb, Treaties, Maps and the Western Sector 1965, pp. 37, 38, 40:
    • "No text of this agreement between Tibet and Ladakh survives, but there are references to it in chronicles"
    • "There can be no doubt that the 1684 (or 1683) agreement between Ladakh and the authorities then controlling Tibet did in fact take place. Unfortunately, no original text of it has survived and its terms can only be deduced. In its surviving form there seems to be a reference to a boundary point at 'the Lhari stream at Demchok', a stream which would appear to flow into the Indus at Demchok and divide that village into two halves."
    • "The treaty that could have given this information, that of 1684, has not survived in the form of its full text, and we have no means of determining exactly what line of frontier was contemplated in 1684. The chronicles which refer to this treaty are singularly deficient in precise geographical details."
  17. ^ Petech, The Kingdom of Ladakh (1977), p. 1,3: "The main source for Ladakhi history is, and always will be, the La-dvags rgyal-rabs, compiled probably in the 17th century, but continued later till the end of the kingdom and beyond. [...] The only other literary source from Ladakh is the biography of sTag-ts'ah-ras-pa (TTRP), compiled in 1663."
  18. ^ a b van Eekelen, Willem Frederik (1964). Indian Foreign Policy and the Border Dispute with China. Springer-Verlag. doi:10.1007/978-94-015-0715-8. ISBN 978-94-015-0715-8.
  19. ^ Fisher, Rose & Huttenback, Himalayan Battleground (1963), p. 55–56.
  20. ^ Lamb, The China-India border (1964), p. 64.
  21. ^ Lamb, The China-India border (1964), p. 66.
  22. ^ Lamb, The China-India border (1964), pp. 64–66.
  23. ^ a b Lamb, The China-India border (1964), p. 68.
  24. ^ Maxwell, India's China War 970, map opposite p. 40.
  25. ^ a b Lamb, The China-India border (1964), p. 67.
  26. ^ Lamb, Treaties, Maps and the Western Sector (1965), p. 47The first good set of maps of Kashmir, though still very defective in the Aksai region, were Photozincographed Sections of part of, the Survey of Kashmir, Ladak, and Baltistan or Little Tibet, 20 sheets, 8 miles to the inch, published by the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India, Dehra Dun, October 1868.
  27. ^ Lamb, The China-India border (1964), p. 43: "The Kashmir Survey which officially completed its task in November 1864.2 [...] The results of the Kashmir Survey were published as an Atlas in 1868, and they give a good indication of the Ladakh-Tibet boundary over some of its length.3
    2Strachey's map, in two sheets at 8 miles to the inch, can be seen in the Map Rooms of the Royal Geographical Society and the India Office Library. It has been reproduced, much reduced, in Atlas, maps 11 & 12.
    3Photozincographed Sections of part of the Survey of Kashmir, Ladak and Baltistan or Little Tibet, Great Trigonometrical Survey of India, Dehra Dun, Oct. 1868; 20 sheets at a scale of 16 miles to the inch (1.0. Map Room, cat. no. F/IV/r6)"
  28. ^ Karackattu, Joe Thomas (2018). "India–China Border Dispute: Boundary-Making and Shaping of Material Realities from the Mid-Nineteenth to Mid-Twentieth Century". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 28 (1): 135–159. doi:10.1017/S1356186317000281. ISSN 1356-1863. One of the earliest official delimitations of the northern frontiers of India appears in photozincographed sections of part of the survey of Kashmir, Ladak and Baltistan or Little Tibet showing the "Boundary of His Highness the Maharajah of Kashmir" (8 miles to 1 inch, Dehradoon, October 1868).
  29. ^ Lamb, The China-India border (1964), pp. 72–73.
  30. ^ Montgomerie, Report of the Trans-Himalayan Explorations (1869), p. 157.
  31. ^ Montgomerie, Report of the Trans-Himalayan Explorations (1869), pp. 157–158.
  32. ^ a b Rao, The India-China Border (1968):
    • p.24: "But such an evaluation was seldom done and although most officials traced the boundary correctly along the watershed range running parallel to the river Indus, gross blunders were committed regarding the alignment in the Pangong and Demchok areas. This was apparently due to the unfamiliarity of some of the British officials with the traditional and treaty basis of the boundary and to their mistaking local disputes such as pasture disputes with boundary disputes."
    • p.29: "The Kashmir Atlas boundary conflicts also with the first-hand evidence provided by the 1847 Commission. In regard to Demchok, it conflicts with well-established facts of history and with revenue records for the very period that the survey was conducted."
  33. ^ Bray, The Lapchak Mission (1990), p. 75: "Many of these relationships had their origin in the distant past, and the British at first understood their full significance imperfectly, or not at all."
  34. ^ Lamb, The China-India border (1964), p. 173.
  35. ^ Petech, The Kingdom of Ladakh (1977), p. 1.
  36. ^ Bray, The Lapchak Mission (1990), p. 77.
  37. ^ a b c Lamb, Alastair (1965). "Treaties, Maps and the Western Sector of the Sino-Indian Boundary Dispute" (PDF). The Australian Year Book of International Law. 1 (1): 37–52. doi:10.1163/26660229-001-01-900000005.
  38. ^ See Atlas of the Northern Frontier of India, Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, Maps 3 and, 6.
  39. ^ Claude Arpi, The curious case of Demchok, The Pioneer, 16 August 2018.
  40. ^ Lamb, Tibet, China & India (1989), p. 360.
  41. ^ Cheema, Crimson Chinar (2015), p. 190.
  42. ^ Claude Arpi, The Case of Demchok, Indian Defence Review, 19 May 2017.
  43. ^ Fisher, Rose & Huttenback, Himalayan Battleground (1963), pp. 106–107.
  44. ^ McKay, Alex (2015), Kailas Histories: Renunciate Traditions and the Construction of Himalayan Sacred Geography, BRILL, p. 520, ISBN 978-90-04-30618-9
  45. ^ a b Puri, Luv (2 August 2005). "Ladakhis await re-opening of historic Tibet route". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2020. Administrative record books show that it has a population of 150 people living in 24 houses, all having solar-powered lights. The village itself was divided into two parts one held by India and the other by China after the 1962 Sino-Indian war, though there is not a single divided family. On the Chinese side one can spot two houses and the road seems to be in a poor condition.
  46. ^ Arpi, Claude (19 May 2017). "The Case of Demchok". Indian Defence Review. Retrieved 19 July 2020. The talks were held in Beijing between Zhang Hanfu, China's Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, N. Raghavan, the Indian Ambassador to China and T.N. Kaul, his Chargé d'Affaires and Chen Chai-Kang, a Director. They lasted from December 1953 till end of April 1954. [...] Kaul objected, Demchok was in India, he told Chen who answered that India's border was further on the West of the Indus. On Kaul's insistence Chen said "There can be no doubt about actual physical possession which can be verified on spot but to avoid any dispute we may omit mention of Demchok". [...] In October 1962, the Demchok sub-sector was held by the 7 J&K Militia. The PLA launched an attack on October 22. [...] The PLA eventually withdrew, but occupied the southern part of Demchok.
  47. ^ A selection of sources that state that the Demchok sector is administered by China:

    A selection of sources that state that the Demchok sector is administered by India:


External linksEdit