How many soldiers are in Doklam? 40 or 400?
By Pradip R. Sagar | Express News Service | Published: 03rd August 2017 08:04 AM |
NEW DELHI: Contrary to Chinese claims, India has not reduced the number of its troops in Doklam, where the People Liberation Army (PLA) and the Indian Army have been eyeball to eyeball for 50 days.
In a 15-page document released on Wednesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that there are approximately 40 Indian soldiers standing up to the Chinese in Doklam presently, down from 400 that had been there at one point.
Sources in South Block insisted that the Indian Army has kept that number at 400. “We have not reduced any troops. The information given out by the Chinese government is incorrect and misleading,” said an officer.
Sources said a like number of Chinese troops are deployed at the site.
Beijing has been demanding withdrawal of Indian troops before a dialogue can begin on ending the Doklam confrontation. India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj has insisted that both sides should pull back for talking to begin.
Responding to the Chinese publication, the Ministry of External Affairs cited its June 30 statement on the issue that “India considers that peace and tranquility in the India-China border is an important prerequisite for smooth development of our bilateral relations with China.”
It’s now clear that last week’s visit to Beijing by national security advisor Ajit Doval has not taken the standoff closer to a solution. The Chinese Foreign Ministry statement in Beijing said as much: “Yang Jiechi, state councilor, expressed China’s stern positions and explicit requirements on the trespass of Indian border troops into China’s territory at the Sikkim section of China-India boundary.”
Going further, China released a detailed statement stating that “On 16 June 2017, the Chinese side was building a road in the Dong Lang (the Chinese name for Doklam) area. On 18 June, over 270 Indian border troops, carrying weapons and driving two bulldozers, crossed the boundary in the Sikkim sector at the Duo Ka La (Doka La) pass and advanced more than 100 meters into Chinese territory to obstruct the road building of the Chinese side, causing tension in the area.
In addition to the two bulldozers, the trespassing Indian border troops, reaching as many as over 400 people at one point, have put up three tents and advanced over 180 meters into Chinese territory. As of the end of July, there were still over 40 Indian border troops and one bulldozer
illegally staying in the Chinese territory.”
The Chinese position on the present standoff is rooted in a convention signed between Britain and China back in 1890.
“After the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the independence of India, the governments of both countries inherited the 1890 Convention and delimited the India-China boundary in the Sikkim sector as established by the Convention.
This is evidenced by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s letters to Chinese Premier Chou En-lai, diplomatic notes from the Indian Embassy in China to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, and documents provided by the Indian side in the Special Representatives Talks on the India-China Boundary Question,” the publication said.