The Foreign Secretary assured a parliamentary committee on External Affairs that India is using diplomatic channels to defuse the crisis.
NEW DELHI: Though China habitually stirs up border disputes, its approach to the stand-off at Sikkim that began last month is unusually aggressive, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told a group of MPs today which included senior opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi.
The Foreign Secretary assured a parliamentary committee on External Affairs that India is using diplomatic channels to defuse the crisis. Twenty of the 31 members from different parties were present at the briefing.
There is no question of India being pushed into armed action, Mr Jaishankar said, acknowledging that China’s rhetoric on the border dispute is alarmist and that India’s approach is “take a deep breath.”
Troops from India and China are locked in a confrontation on a plateau close to the mountainous state of Sikkim. According to the Chinese interpretation of events, Indian soldiers crossed into China’s Donglang region early in June and obstructed work on a road on the plateau it calls Donglang. Bhutan says the land, which it calls Doklam, belongs to its kingdom and not to China, a claim India agrees with. India also says it had warned China that the road was a serious security concern – it gives Beijing access to the so-called Chicken’s Neck, a thin strip of land that links India with its seven north eastern states.
Mr Gandhi, who is the Vice President of the Congress, asked if China is trying to signal to Bhutan that India cannot come to its rescue. Last week, he acknowledged that he had met the Chinese ambassador to India, as also the Bhutanese envoy, inciting criticism both of his delayed admission as well of what was seen by political opponents as an attempt to undermine the government at a time of serious and sensitive security concerns.
While India has repeatedly said it is attempting to resolve the confrontation diplomatically, China has been far more belligerent, raising references to the 1962 war that India lost and warning of “more serious consequences.” Today, a spokesperson for the Chinese government said that India has “illegally transgressed” the border and that foreign diplomats in Beijing who were briefed on the dispute expressed “shock” at India’s actions.
An MP from West Bengal raised the concerns shared earlier this week by Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of Bengal, who has accused the Centre of mismanaging the confrontation and making her state vulnerable on account of its proximity to the “Chicken’s Neck.” The Foreign Secretary reportedly asked for the Chief Minister to be told that her accusations don’t help at a time when India’s stand on the border dispute must come across as cohesive and well-planned.