Chinese soldiers enter Sikkim, destroy bunkers

Army resists PLA, scuffle ensues

Chinese soldiers enter Sikkim, destroy bunkers

 A scuffle broke out between the Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at a remote area in Sikkim recently, after which the PLA entered Indian territory and damaged two makeshift bunkers.

The incident occurred in the first week of June near Lalten post in the Doka La general area of Sikkim, triggering tension along the border, official sources said. A flag meeting between senior army officers of the two nations on June 20 failed to ease the tension.
This is apparently the reason why China stopped a batch of 47 Indian pilgrims on Kailash Mansarovar Yatra from crossing through Nathu La border in Sikkim into the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The PLA, however, accused the Indian Army of stopping the construction of a road in its “sovereign territory” in the Sikkim section of the India-China border and said the move has “seriously damaged” border peace and tranquillity.

On Monday, the Chinese defence ministry spokesman, Ren Guoqiang, said China had recently started constructing a road in DongLang region but was stopped by Indian troops which crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the de facto border. “In this context, the Indian troops unilaterally provoked trouble which was in violation of the relevant agreement between the two sides and the mutual consensus between the leaders of the two countries,” it said.

Beijing also said it was in touch with New Delhi over the suspension of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra via Nathu La.

However, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese government, Geng Suhang, declined to comment on the reasons for suspending its much-hyped Confidence Building Measure (CBM) with India just two years after it was launched with much fanfare.

A source told DH that Beijing’s recent moves along the LAC in Sikkim signal hardening of its position in response to New Delhi’s decision in April to allow the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh – the frontier state which has been at the centre of the border dispute between India and China.

Beijing had then warned New Delhi that it would retaliate with “necessary measures to defend its territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests”.

The airspace violation by two Chinese helicopters in Uttarakhand earlier this month also signalled that Beijing had hardened its position even on the less contentious “middle sector” of the disputed Sino-India boundary. Interestingly, China had acknowledged Sikkim to be an integral part of India in 2003 and even published maps accordingly.

But it started claiming about 2.1 sqkm area around Doka La since 2008.
China accepted India’s request to open another route for the pilgrimage via Nathu La as an alternative to the old route via Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand at a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi in September 2014.

Travelling via the old route requires trekking for several days and sometimes through inclement weather. Beijing allowed Indian pilgrims to enter China through Nathu La in 2015 and 2016, even as bilateral relations between the two nations deteriorated.

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