The Sino-Indian standoff in Doklam, a 296 sq km plateau on the Sikkim-Tibet Autonomous Region-border intensified further on Sunday with both nations rushing reinforcements to the remote region. The border standoff has flared into the longest one since the 1962 war.
The trouble began last month when Indian troops challenged a Chinese road-building party in Bhutan near the tri-junction, forcing it to stop. The area, close to India’s strategically critical Siliguri corridor - is held by Bhutan, but claimed by China.
A senior official revealed that while talks at the highest levels were being held to defuse the situation, both sides had strengthened their positions on ground, although chances of an armed intervention by either side is unlikely at the moment, with the troops being sent in ‘non-combat’ mode.
On Sunday, China released maps showing Doklam as its own territory, and State run-Xihnua News agency accused India of “ignoring international law” and “seriously interfering” with China’s construction activities on its own soil. An earlier commentary had even asked India to recall the 1962 debacle, when Chinese troops invaded India in a two pronged attack and almost reached the plains of Assam before unilaterally withdrawing behind the line of control.
“As our Defence Minister pointed out, this isn’t 1962,” retorted the official. “Perhaps we should remind them about 1967, when we gave the Chinese a bloody nose in Nathu La, not far from Doklam.”
“There are a few firsts in this current stalemate,” says Nitin Gokhale, a national security analyst. “For once China is projecting itself as the aggrieved party. Two, Beijing has retaliated by cancelling the Mansarovar Yatra, one easier confidence building measure. Three, China has called India to withdraw its troops for any further talks to commence. A far more assured and confident India reacted to the barrage of intemperate statements with a measured one.”
“Despite the belligerence displayed by some Indian military veterans from the safety of TV studios, both New Delhi and Beijing have the wisdom and sagacity to resolve the dispute calmly,” he added.