The death of a Tibetan member of an Indian special forces unit in a mine blast near the site of a border flare-up with Chinese troops has offered a new angle to the conflict.

Tenzin Nyima, 53, died and another commando critically injured in the blast near the shores of the Pangong Tso Lake in the western Himalayas.

Indian and Chinese forces came close to direct confrontation in the area over the weekend, the two governments have said.

Nyima was part of the Special Frontier Force (SFF), his family and three government officials said.

The force recruits mostly from Tibetan refugees, hundreds of thousands of whom have made India their home since the Dalai Lama fled Tibet following a failed uprising in 1959. Some are Indian citizens.

The fact that certain areas of the LAC are being mined by the Chinese has raised a critical issue in the conflict.

Firstly, are the Chinese worried over an Indian offensive of a limited nature to take back the areas they claim have been intruded and is it the cause for their blocking the approach routes to Aksai Chin by extensive mining  — this after Home Minister Amit Shah threatened in Indian Parliament last year in July to wrest back Aksai Chin

Secondly, if the Chinese mine large swathes and the Indians follow, how can these border tensions be defused?

Thirdly, will this mining on both sides be the only solution to enforce a status-quo so that neither army can launch a swift conclusive offensive and that status quo finally brings down the apprehensions which are key to peacemaking!

The death of the Indian commando by hitting the mine has raised these questions and more.

Subir Bhaumik

Subir Bhaumik is a Kolkata-based senior journalist. He can be reached at: sbhaum@gmail.com