Oops: Army mistakes Venus, Jupiter for China spy probes in Ladakh

the Army requested the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore, to resolve the mystery of the two objects that the army had been observing in the sensitive border zone of eastern Ladakh since early 2012

FP Staff July 26, 2013 15:40:42 IST
Oops: Army mistakes Venus, Jupiter for China spy probes in Ladakh

For the last six months, the Indian Army has been tracking Jupiter and Venus under the mistaken perception that the mostly harmless planets were, in fact, flying intruders from China.

The revelations came after the Army requested the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore, to resolve the mystery of the two objects that the army had been observing in the sensitive border zone of eastern Ladakh since early 2012, according to this article in The Telegraph. As many as 329 sightings of the two planets had been recorded by the Army till February 2013 over a lake shared by India  and Tibet.

Earlier a report in the Deccan Chronicle had noted that security agencies were "baffled by continuous sightings of twin unidentified luminous objects in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, in an area along the India-China border."

Interestingly, the report noted that, "the special team of scientists has submitted its report to the Union home ministry saying these appear to be “celestial bodies”. The security agencies, however, are not buying the argument and want a deeper probe.“The matter was raised with China during flag meetings where they denied any knowledge and suggested we shoot them down. But that is not possible as these objects are very high up in the sky,” a top government official said on condition of anonymity.

Oops Army mistakes Venus Jupiter for China spy probes in Ladakh

Representational photo of the Indian Army in Ladakh. Reuters

According to the Telegraph article, it was army lance naik Sheminderpal Singh, who is a regular observer at Point 4715, who had been tracking the two planets for the last year.

But in Singh's defence, astronomers clarified to The Telegraph that objects that rise in the east may appear to be moving across the LAC and approaching the Indian side. Besides, Singh's job designation is that of being an observer. And he clearly was a diligent one, giving the astronomers minute-by-minute updates of when the unidentified objects appeared and disappeared.

According to the report,

"The lance naik cannot be accused of over-reacting. He would have been posted at the height (above 13,000 feet) to function as a sentry/observer. This is not unusual. All along the LAC (as also on the LoC with Pakistan) troops from either side try to set up observation posts on dominating heights to monitor movements on the other side of the undefined frontier."

Read the entire article here.

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