The Chinese foreign ministry on Tuesday said it had lodged a diplomatic protest in both New Delhi and Beijing, after claiming that Indian troops “crossed the boundary” in Sikkim, The Indian Express reported. “We have lodged solemn representations in Beijing and New Delhi to elaborate on our solemn position,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.
China had on Monday confirmed that its decision to suspend the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra via Nathu La was based on the border standoff, Xinhua reported. China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang demanded that India withdraw its border guards, whom Beijing accuses of crossing the Sikkim section of the China-India border.
The Chinese Army had on Monday accused the Indian military of provoking tensions across the Line of Actual Control by stopping the construction of a road in what it claims to be China’s “sovereign territory” in the Sikkim region along the India-China border, PTI reported.
Beijing said Indian troops had “obstructed normal activities of Chinese frontier forces in the Donglang area recently, and the Chinese side has taken counter-measures.”
“China is dedicated to developing bilateral relations, and will staunchly defend its legitimate rights,” Beijing said. “China hopes India will meet it halfway, not do anything to complicate the border issues and jointly maintain the good momentum of relations.”
India, however, had alleged a fight broke out between personnel of the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army during the first week of June near the Lalten post in a Doka La region of Sikkim, officials in New Delhi said. Soldiers from PLA later damaged two make-shift bunkers on the Indian side.
Indian officials had said the face-off could not be defused even after a flag meeting between senior Army officers from the two sides. “There was some jostling and a scuffle between the rival troops. Our soldiers formed a human wall to deny the PLA troops from making further inroads,” an official was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
Similar face-offs have been going on in this area of Sikkim for the last 10 days. In November 2008, the Chinese forces had destroyed some makeshift Indian Army bunkers at the same place.
The Mansarovar Yatra, which was flagged off by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on June 11, was suspended on June 23 after China told around 50 Indian pilgrims that they would be allowed to enter only after the weather and road conditions improve. The pilgrims, who were supposed to cross over to Tibet via the Nathu La Pass in Sikkim, had to return to Gangtok.
This year, seven batches of 50 pilgrims each were to cross over to Tibet through Nathu La while 18 batches of 60 pilgrims each were scheduled to reach Kailash through Lipu Lekh pass in Uttarkhand, reported Hindustan Times. China on Tuesday said that it has shut entry for Mansarovar pilgrims through the Nathu La Pass in Sikkim for “safety reasons” owing to the border standoff, said The Indian Express.
The Nathu La route was inaugurated in June 2015. Administered by the Tibet Autonomous Region government on the Chinese side, it cuts short the trekking time.