India asks China to retreat from Bhutanese territory

Making it clear that it will not buckle under heated rhetoric from China, India said a diplomatic resolution resulting in a Chinese pullback from Bhutanese territory would resolve the current border stand-off near the Sikkim-
Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction.

“This issue or tension should be resolved at the diplomatic level…It can be resolved diplomatically, which is what we want,” said minister of state for defence Subhash Bhamre, speaking to journalists here on Wednesday.

Pointing to Bhutan’s recent statement, which held China accused of trying to unilaterally alter the status quo by constructing a road inside Bhutanese territory in violation of all agreements, Bhamre said, “Understand what Bhutan is saying. This tension can be resolved only at a diplomatic level; across the table, we can solve all the problems.”

This comes a day after the Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaohui, in an interview, added to the rhetoric from Beijing by ruling out a compromise in the ongoing troop face-off with India. He said the onus was on India to “unconditionally” pull back its troops to resolve the “grave” situation.

The Indian and Chinese armies have dug into positions on the Doklam Plateau, the Bhutanese territory being claimed by China to construct a motorable road towards the Zomplri ridge, in the stand-off since mid-June, as reported by TOI earlier.

China is fuming at the way Indian troops stationed in the Doka La general area, near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, stepped in to prevent the Chinese soldiers and construction workers from building the road.

India considers the Doklam Plateau, especially the Zomplri Ridge area, as “militarily very sensitive” because it overlooks the strategically vulnerable Siliguri corridor or the “Chicken’s Neck” area, the narrow strip of land that connects the Indian mainland with its north-eastern states.

China has for years been trying to engulf the Doklam Plateau through “creeping but systematic territorial aggression” to add strategic depth to its adjoining but narrow Chumbi Valley, which juts in like a dagger between Sikkim and Bhutan.

By: ET

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