A major scuffle has erupted along the India-China border as Chinese troops entered the Indian state of Sikkim and destroyed two Indian bunkers. Chinese troops also engaged in a fight with Indian troops, who were guarding the border at the location.
The Press Trust of India reported that tension mounted in a remote area of Sikkim after a scuffle broke out between personnel of the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), leading to Chinese troops damaging bunkers on the Indian side of the border.
China has refused entry to the first batch of 47 pilgrims who “were scheduled to travel to Kailash Mansarovar through the Nathu La Pass,” citing damage to roads due to rain and landslides in the Tibet region, Indian press reports said.
China lodged diplomatic protests with India on June 26, alleging that Indian troops crossed the border between the two countries in the Sikkim region, the Press Trust of India reported on Tuesday, June 27. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said China has lodged “solemn representations” with India. “Our position to uphold our territorial sovereignty is unwavering,” Kang said.
India should take measures to ease tensions along the border area, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on the matter of restoring entry access to Indian pilgrims. Lu said that to maintain good China-Indian ties, the Chinese government has made great efforts to offer convenience for Indian pilgrims.
“However, Indian frontier officers had entered into China’s sovereign territory through the Sikkim section of the India-China border, and China had to take countermeasures. For security concerns, China has suspended the entry of Indian pilgrims to China’s Tibet Autonomous Region via the Nathu La Pass in the Sikkim section of the India-China border,” Lu said.
China has said that the Indian incursion was in violation of an 1890 treaty between Great Britain and China. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying:
“Recently, the Indian border troops crossed the China-India boundary at the Sikkim section and entered the Chinese territory, obstructing Chinese border troops’ normal activities in Doklam. The Chinese side has taken proportionate measures in response.”
“The Chinese side requires the Indian side to respect the boundary convention and China’s territorial sovereignty, immediately withdraw their border troops that have crossed the boundary, conduct thorough investigation into this and safeguard peace and tranquility of the Sikkim section.”
China’s People’s Liberation Army
Meanwhile, China’s People’s Liberation Army said on June 26 that the Indian military disrupted road construction in what it says is Chinese territory. Defense ministry spokesperson Colonel Ren Guoqiang said the “unilateral provocation” risks “seriously endangering the peace and stability of the border areas.”
The unilateral provocation of Indian troops has violated the consensus and relevant agreements on border issues between the Chinese and Indian governments, seriously endangering the peace and stability of the border areas, Ren said.
The China-Indian boundary in Sikkim has been delineated by historical treaties, and the Indian government has repeatedly confirmed in writing since their country gained independence, acknowledging they had no objection to the China-Indian boundary line at the Sikkim section, Ren said.
Ren noted that China is committed to developing bilateral relations with India, but it will also firmly defend its legitimate rights and interests. He urged India not to complicate border issues and help China maintain the sound momentum in bilateral relations.
Mountain Corps Division
Russian news agency Sputnik said ever since newly-appointed Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat took charge, India has expedited work related to building movable modern bunkers along the border shared with China. Sputnik reported in January this year that the Indian Army was using hollow block structures for building hundreds of bunkers near Sikkim. According to Sputnik:
“India’s refusal to take part in One Belt, One Road summit organized by China did not go down well with China. Since then, Beijing has issued a warning over some of the activities conducted by India along the border especially in the north-east region. China opposed the infrastructure development issue several times.
“The construction of bunkers has been a flashpoint in Sino-India ties. These bunkers can be easily transported to the Himalayan terrain after getting built in the plains of Assam and Sikkim. The step is an indication of India’s keenness to raise a 90,000-strong Mountain Corps for strengthening the deployment along the 4,057-km of Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.”
Mountain Corps Division
It may be recalled Sputnik report in May last that India is raising a second division of Mountain Strike Corps to strengthen its capabilities against neighboring China. The first division is stationed in Panagarh in West Bengal, the eastern Indian state.
The second division of Mountain Strike Corps, which will be headquartered in Pathankot, will be raised to counter China to form a credible deterrence against the Chinese army.
The new 17 Mountain Strike Corps will have a strength of around 90,000 soldiers and it will take almost three years to become fully operational. It will consist of two new high-altitude infantry divisions and it will be spread from Arunachal Pradesh to Ladakh along the border with China.
“As far as the Strike Corps is concerned, we already have three Strike Corps against Pakistan and these are for plains that is basically one, two and twenty-one Corps. However, we were not having the Strike Corps in use against Chinese in mountains and hence a 17 Strike Corps for mountains have been raised and it will be fully deployed along the China border. So far we only have a defensive mechanism against the China, however with the Strike Corps coming and being raised, we will also have an offensive mechanism,” Major General (Rtd) AK Siwach, a former head of the Territorial Army, told Sputnik.
“As far as the Chinese are concerned, the threat is real… We should be well-prepared against any contingency,” Major General Siwach added.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali, is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com