External Affairs

India Deploys More Troops Along China Border in Sikkim, Arunachal

There has been no enhancement of troops at the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction in Doklam; in Nathu La, Indian and Chinese soldiers hold border meeting

China and India have been engaged in a standoff in the Doklam area near the Bhutan. Credit: Reuters

China and India have been engaged in a standoff in the Doklam area near the Bhutan. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: In a strategically significant move, India has poured in more troops along the entire stretch of its border with China in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh as a response to heightened rhetoric by Beijing over the Doklam standoff, senior government officials said on Friday.

The “caution level” among the troops has also been raised, the officials told PTI.

The decision to increase troop deployment along the nearly 1,400-km Sino-India border from Sikkim to Arunachal Pradesh was taken after carrying out a detailed analysis of the situation and considering China’s aggressive posturing against India on Doklam, the officials said.

“The troop level along the border with China in the Sikkim and Arunachal sectors has been increased,” said the officials on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.

The Army’s Sukna-based 33 Corps as well as 3 and 4 corps based in Arunachal and Assam are tasked with protecting the sensitive Sino-India border in the eastern theatre.

The officials declined to give any figures with regard to increased deployment, saying they cannot disclose “operational details.” According to defence experts, roughly 45,000 troops including personnel having completed the weather acclimatisation process are normally kept ready along the border at any given time, but not all are necessarily deployed.

The soldiers, deployed over 9,000 feet, have to go through a 14-day-long acclimatisation process.

The officials, however, said there is no enhancement of troops at the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction in Doklam where around 350 army personnel have been holding their positions for nearly eight weeks after stopping Chinese troops from constructing a road on June 16.

Bhutan and China have competing claims over Doklam and are negotiating a resolution.

China has been ramping up its rhetoric against India over the last few weeks, demanding immediate withdrawal of Indian troops from Doklam. The Chinese state media, particularly, has carried a barrage of critical articles on the Doklam stand-off slamming India.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj recently said both sides should first pull back their troops for any talks to take place, and favoured a peaceful resolution of the border standoff. India also conveyed to the Chinese government that the road construction would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for it.

India, China hold border personnel meet in Nathu La

Meanwhile, PTI has also learned that army personnel from India and China held a meeting at Nathu La mountain pass in Sikkim on Friday.

The face-off between armies of the two countries at the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction in Doklam figured in the border personnel meeting (BPM), a source said.

The BPM set up was launched by both countries to sort out local issues and ensure peace and tranquility along the sensitive border.

The two sides hold BPM in five points which include Daulat Beg Oldie in northern Ladakh, Kibithoo in Arunachal Pradesh, Chusul in Ladakh, Bum-La near Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh and Nathu-La in Sikkim.

India and China have been locked in a face-off in the Doklam area of the Sikkim sector for nearly eight weeks after Indian troops stopped the Chinese Army from building a road in the area.

China claimed it was constructing the road within their territory and has been demanding immediate pull-out of the Indian troops from the disputed Doklam plateau. Bhutan says Doklam belongs to it but China claims it to be its territory.

China has been ramping up rhetoric against India over the last few weeks demanding immediate withdrawal of Indian troops from Dokalam. The Chinese state media, particularly, have carried a barrage of critical articles on the Dokalam stand- off slamming India.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had recently said both sides should first pull back their troops for any talks to take place, favouring a peaceful resolution of the border standoff.

India also conveyed to the Chinese government that the road construction would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for it

(PTI)