India and China have deployed around 3,000 troops each on the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, The Times of India reported on Friday. The Indian Army, however, refused to comment on the matter.
Officials said the latest standoff between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army of China at the Doka La general area appeared to be a serious one. “Both sides are as yet not willing to budge from their positions. Flag meetings and other talks between the rival commanders have not worked till now,” an official was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Earlier on Thursday, Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat arrived in Sikkim to review the security situation amid a stand-off between the two countries’ troops along the border in the area. The one-day trip was “routine” and planned before the recent tensions, a spokesman for the Indian army said, reported Reuters.
General Rawat concentrated on the deployments of the 17 Division, responsible for the defence of eastern Sikkim, which has four brigades under its command. “All top officers, including the 33 Corps and 17 Division commanders, were present during the extensive discussions. The chief will return to New Delhi on Friday morning,” the official said.
The PLA personnel had breached the Line of Actual Control in the Sikkim sector and destroyed two makeshift Indian Army bunkers earlier this month in Lalten area of Doka La sector.
On Thursday, the People’s Liberation Army said in Beijing that it had conducted trials of a new 35-tonne tank in the plains of Tibet. However, the army said that “it was not targeted against any country”.
India has also made it clear that it will not allow China to construct a motorable road till the tri-junction through the Bhutanese territory of Doklam plateau. Bhutan, too, has asked Beijing to stop work immediately and issued a demarche to China over the construction of the road towards its army camp at Zomplri in the Doklam plateau.
“China is trying to build a ‘Class-40 road’ in the Doklam plateau that can take the weight of military vehicles weighing up to 40 tonnes, which include light battle tanks, artillery guns and the like,” the official said.
Warning from China
On Thursday, China’s Defence Spokesperson Colonel Wu Qian had said that India should learn from history and stop “clamouring” for war, in reference to the 1962 Sino-Indian war that had ended with a Chinese victory. Wu had also asked New Delhi to withdraw troops from what he claimed was Chinese territory in the Sikkim sector.
The comments come a day after Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat said Indian forces were prepared for internal security threats as well as to take on China and Pakistan.
On Tuesday, the Chinese Army had accused the Indian Army of stopping the construction of the road in what it claims to be China’s “sovereign territory” in Sikkim sector. Subsequently, the Chinese Foreign Ministry had lodged a diplomatic complaint with both New Delhi and Beijing. China had also used the “transgression” of the Indian forces into its claimed territory as a reason for suspending the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra on Monday.