Army Chief Bipin Rawat will be visiting Sikkim on Thursday amid the standoff between Indian troops and Chinese army along the Sino-Indian border, news agency PTI reported. He will reportedly take stock of the operational matters and interact with top commanders in the formation headquarters of the force in the state bordering China
According to PTI, General Rawat is expected to travel to a number of other formation headquarters in the Northeast during his two-day long visit and review various operational matters in the region. Of the total 3,488-km-long India-China border that stretches from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim, and a considerable amount falling in the northeastern region.
Earlier on Tuesday, commenting on the incident, a state-run daily in China on Tuesday said China must force the Indian troops to retreat “by all necessary means” and New Delhi must be “taught the rules”. “The Indian government made no objection to the Sikkim section of the China-India border. Allegations of intrusions along the western section of the China-India border often emerge, but face-offs in the Sikkim section are rare,” a hard-hitting op-ed in the Global Times said.
The entire controversy regarding the latest border dispute broke out after China’s People’s Liberation Party (PLA) destroyed Indian bunkers along the Sino-Indian border following a scuffle between Indian Army and Chinese troops in the remote areas of Sikkim. The incident which reportedly took place in the first week of June in the Lalten post in the Doka La general area in Sikkim, triggered tensions between the two countries.
China blocks access to Kailash Manasarovar
During a meeting on June 20 between the Indian Army and its Chinese counterpart, the Chinese side said that Indian pilgrims, who were on a yatra to Kailash Mansarovar, would not be allowed to cross into Tibet, which led to the pilgrims returning back to Gangtok, Sikkim’s capital. The Chinese claimed that a bridge had broken because of which the pilgrims could not cross into Tibet for the annual yatra. The Sikkim route to Mansarovar, which is in Tibet, was opened in 2015.
China accuses Indian troops of crossing boundary
But following India’s accusations of Chinese troops crossing and attacking Indian bunkers, the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday this week said that Indian troops had “crossed the boundary” in Sikkim. In a statement, the Foreign Ministry added that it had lodged a diplomatic protest in both New Delhi as well as Beijing and had demanded the “immediate withdrawal of troops from the area”.
“The Indian border guards crossed the boundary in the Sikkim section of the China-India border and entered the territory of China, and obstructed normal activities of Chinese frontier forces in the Donglang area recently, and the Chinese side has taken counter-measures,” the Foreign Ministry claimed.
India convenes high-level meeting
Tensions between the two countries had escalated enough for the Indian government to convene a high-level meeting on Tuesday to review the situation along China border in Sikkim. In a meeting attended by the Home Ministry, Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police officials, the incident was described “as China’s attempt to open another front along the border”.
What were the reactions
Following the incident, an editorial in a Chinese daily said that India must be “taught the rules” and that China must force the Indian troops to retreat “by all necessary means”.
“Whatever the motive is, China must stick to its bottom line. It must force the Indian troops to retreat to the Indian side by all means necessary and China’s road construction mustn’t be stopped,” said the op-ed piece in the Global Times, which is known for its nationalist stance.
Back home, in the backdrop of the Trump-Modi meeting, Shiv Sena expressed its concerns over the news of the face-off between troops in Sikkim.
“Until now, Chinese troops used to enter Arunachal Pradesh and Leh. Now it has been learnt that they have entered Sikkim and destroyed two Indian bunkers. This is a shocking incident,” an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said.