With the territorial tussle between India and China is at an all-time high in recent decades, the Indian soldiers are putting up a brave foot forward in what the China is illegally claiming to be their territory. And with China warning India of consequences bigger than those it borne in 1962, India seems all ready to face any kind of challenge put forward by the aggressor.
With nearly 300 Indian soldiers stationed at a meagre 100 metres away from the almost same number of Chinese soldiers at Doklam, the standoff has become a bone of contention between the two countries with none ready to back out.
It has been a month now since both armies standing against each other with barrels of guns down, at least for the time being.
Here is all about Doklam standoff, what led to it and why it’s critical for India and Bhutan.
Where is Doklam?
Doklam plateau is an 89 sq km pasture that falls close to dagger shaped Chumbi Valley at the corner of India-Bhutan-China tri-junction. Doklam is the point where the borders of all three nations-India, China and Bhutan meet.
How did it start?
Both China and Bhutan claim over Doklam as it’s a disputed territory. On the night of June 8, China initiated a manoeuvre in Doklam that would trigger a chain of events leading to the most dangerous standoff between India and China in recent years.
A PLA platoon is said to have removed two stone bunkers raised by the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) had constructed years ago and manned occasionally and went ahead with construction of a road. At the behest of Bhutan, Indian Army intervened and stopped the Chinese construction of the road.
Soon, the situation escalated and the impasse which was limited to some squabbles and arm twisting between armies of two sides turned into a standoff with 300 odd soldiers from each side facing each other with barrels down.
What are the Chinese allegations?
While China has accused India of infringing upon Bhutan’s sovereignty and to confuse right from wrong, India says that it has come to aid at Bhutan’s behest and would continue to assist the Himalayan Kingdom. But apart from just aiding Bhutan which doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Beijing, India has its own concerns to deal with.
“In order to cover up the illegal entry by Indian troops into the Chinese territory, Indian side wants to infringe upon Bhutan’s sovereignty and they try to confuse right from wrong. This is futile. We have no objection to normal bilateral relations between India and Bhutan but are firmly opposed to the Indian side infringing on Chinese territory using Bhutan as an excuse,” said Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesperson Geng Shuang.
India’s major concern
India’s concern is the protection of its vulnerable Siliguri Corridor aka ‘Chicken’s Neck’ a narrow stretch of land which connects mainland India with India’s north-east and if China builds this road, it will get closer to Doka La, the last Indian military post on its border with Bhutan and China.
If China builds a road there, it can easily mobilise its troops in the time of conflict to cut mainland India with its north-east.
Five possibilities from here on
With no country ready to back off, the experts believe that Doklam standoff has the potential of unleashing a full-fledged war between the Asian giants. But some are still hopeful of a peaceful solution to the issue. China has been adamant of India withdrawing its troops from the region and through its paper ‘Global Times’, the Chinese government has threatened India of consequences bigger than 1962. In reply, Indian Defence minister Arun Jaitley also has given a befitting reply that China shouldn’t mistake India as India of 1962.
With the war of words getting louder and both sides giving no quarter to retreat, the standoff can trigger a limited as well as a full-fledged war.
Here are the five things that can possibly happen during the current deadlock-
– India withdraws its security forces, China continues with the construction of the road which looks unlikely to happen.
– China withdraws its army unilaterally, India stays back which also look impossible citing China’s aggression over this issue.
– None side moves and deadlock continues. This would maintain a status quo and would be a repeat of 1987 Sumdorong Chu Valley in Arunachal Pradesh faceoff where both armies stood against each other for several months.
– Reaching diplomatic engagement and both sides withdraw which is perhaps the best solution to the issue.
– Escalation by China in other areas. China doesn’t any chance in a limited confrontation in Doklam as India’s position is too strong there. Therefore, it can open other fronts like Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and others. China has already threatened India of entering Kashmir at Pakistan’s behest.
– Finally, an all out war between two nuclear-armed nations.
Doklam issue certainly requires a diplomatic solution, but the posture that India has taken so far couldn’t be argued against because for far too long, India has played subservient to Dragon’s might. And if at all, India harbours the ambition to be a global power, it ought to face China at some point now or in future.