Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat on Thursday visited formation headquarters of the force in North Sikkim and was briefed by top commanders about the entire security situation in the wake of the face-off between Indian troops and Chinese military over a disputed area. Rawat, on a two-day visit, was apprised about the tense situation on the border at the Army’s 17 Mountain Division even as China, hardening its position on the stand-off, warned that the Indian Army should learn “historical lessons”, in an oblique reference to the 1962 war.
The Army Chief also visited areas under the 17 Mountain Division, tasked to guard the Sino-India border in the Sikkim sector, and took stock of various operational aspects. “Gen Rawat was briefed about the operational matters,” an official source said.
The genesis of the flashpoint was China’s attempts to build a road at strategically key area of Donglong, the linking of which to the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction could give China a major military advantage over India. The Indian Army had blocked construction of the road by China in Donglong, a disputed territory between China and Bhutan.
Of the 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim. Official sources said China had removed an old bunker of the Indian Army in Donglong by using a bulldozer after the Indian side refused to accede to its request, which triggered the face-off.
Referring to Gen. Rawat’s comments earlier this month that India is ready for a “two-and-a-half front war”, the Chinese military today rejected the remarks as “extremely irresponsible” asking him to “stop clamouring for war”. The Army Chief had said that India is prepared for security threats posed by China, Pakistan as well as by internal threats.
Amid the tense situation, China today asked India to withdraw its troops from the Donglong area in Sikkim sector as a precondition for a “meaningful dialogue” to settle the boundary issue, warning that the Indian Army should learn “historical lessons”. In an unprecedented action, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, in Beijing, displayed a photograph of Indian “incursion” into Donglong area and said the dispute which is becoming a confrontation of sorts between the troops can only be settled by the withdrawal of Indian soldiers from the area.
The People’s Liberation Army spokesman also accused Indian troops of entering the Chinese side in Donglong area in Sikkim sector.
The Indian Army is yet to comment on the issue. Bhutan on Wednesday said it had issued a demarche to China over the construction of the road and asked Beijing to restore status quo by stopping the work immediately.