NEW DELHI, Aug 12 — India has increased its military alert along its eastern border with China, placing around 50,000 soldiers on notice amid an eight-week-long stand-off with Chinese troops near a three-way junction between Bhutan, China and India, people familiar with the matter said.
The ‘no war, no peace’ operational alert among the soldiers along the 1,500-kilometre stretch of the 4,057-km Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control was raised earlier this week following a threat assessment prompted by hardening Chinese rhetoric in the recent weeks, government officials who get regular updates on the situation said in New Delhi on August 12. They asked not to be identified citing rules on speaking to the media.
The current stalemate involves 300 soldiers each from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Indian Army standing just 100 metres apart at Doklam, a plateau at the tri-junction where the borders of India, China and Bhutan meet. On June 16, Indian Army troops stopped a road construction by the PLA following a protest from Bhutan that the Chinese soldiers were changing the status-quo on the ground.
The troops on alert are part of the Indian Army deployment in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian state that is entirely claimed by China. No additional troops have been sent to the borders with China, the officials said.
While the Doklam stand-off is being directly dealt with by 3,000 soldiers in Sikkim, the other troops deployed close to the Sino-Indian border along the entire eastern stretch of the Line of Actual Control have begun their preparations to stay there through the winter.
“It is at the moment a localised affair on the Sino-Indian border in Sikkim,” said S. L. Narasimhan, a Coimbatore-based independent defence analyst who retired as a Lieutenant General from the Indian Army. “There is no reason for panic. In other areas along the Line of Actual Control, normal military activity and usual patrolling would have gone up in view of the situation in Doklam.”
A meeting between the local commanders from India and China at Nathu La in Sikkim, 30 kilometres north of Doklam ended on Aug 11 without resolution, according to the official.
At the flag meeting, raised to the level of major generals from either side, China wants the withdrawal of Indian Army troops from Doklam. India insists China should remove their construction equipment first. The two sides will now reach out to their respective military headquarters on further course of action, the official said.
“Since this flag meeting hasn’t resulted in a resolution of the conflict at Doklam, it appears to be a long-drawn affair,” Narasimhan said. — Bloomberg