The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through the Nathu La pass in Sikkim has been cancelled, an unnamed government official told PTI on Friday. The decision comes in the wake of continuing tensions between India and China and a face-off between the country’s troops on the Sikkim border.
Though the yatra through Nathu La will not take place this year, pilgrims travelling through the Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand will continue as scheduled, the official said.
Eight batches of 50 pilgrims each were to take the Nathu La pass to Mansarovar in Tibet. The first batch was to have crossed over to Tibet through Nathu La on June 20 and the last batch on July 31. The pilgrims would have taken 21 days to complete the yatra.
While China had issued visas for the first two batches of pilgrims, it had put applications for the next two batches on hold as tensions with India showed no signs of easing.
The first batch of pilgrims returned to Gangtok on June 23 after staying in Nathu La for three days. The second batch of pilgrims did not move from Gangtok and was eventually told to return home.
On Tuesday, the Chinese Army had accused the Indian military of stopping the construction of a road in what it claims is China’s “sovereign territory” in the Sikkim sector. Subsequently, the Chinese Foreign Ministry had lodged a diplomatic complaint with both New Delhi and Beijing. The neighbouring country had stopped the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra accusing Indian troops of “transgressing” into its territory.
Officials said the latest standoff between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army of China at the Doklam general area appeared to be a serious one. India and China have deployed around 3,000 troops each on the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction.
New Delhi 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.