The Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and including Rahul Gandhi, will visit border areas in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh next month to take stock of the situation following the Doklam crisis with China, sources said. The panel has been looking into various aspects of the India-China military standoff at Doklam and has been briefed several times on the issue by the former and current Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale.
“The panel will visit the border areas in two states Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh to see the ground realities and take stock of the situation on border in these two states,” a source said. The idea is to get a firsthand experience of the situation on the India-China border in the two states and to see, or if possible visit, areas where incursions have happened, another source said.
The panel, which may also use a chopper to get an aerial view, could also interact with top security and defense officials deployed there, sources said. Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day standoff in Doklam in the Sikkim sector from June 16 last year after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed tri-junction by the Chinese Army. Bhutan and China have a dispute over Doklam.
Earlier, foreign ministry officials had informed the 31-member parliamentary panel that Bhutan was firmly with India on the issue. During the discussions, Congress president Gandhi questioned foreign ministry officials on China’s objective and why Beijing chose Doklam to create a confrontation, sources had said.
Gandhi had also asked about reports of a major Chinese buildup near Doklam, to which officials replied that nothing had been done in Indian territory.