General Bipin Rawat. Pic/PTI
Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat will visit Sikkim tomorrow in the backdrop of a standoff between Indian troops and Chinese army along the Sino-India border in the sensitive sector which is threatening to further strain the bilateral ties. The Army chief will take stock of the operational matters and interact with top commanders in the formation headquarters of the force in the border state.
Gen Rawat's visit to Sikkim comes amid mounting tension between the two armies along the border in Sikkim following a scuffle between Indian troops and the personnel of China's People's Liberation Army in a remote area earlier this month. The genesis of the latest face-off is understood to have had a link to Donglang, a narrow but strategically important tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan.
Official sources described Gen Rawat's visit as routine. During the two-day-long visit, Gen. Rawat will travel to a number of other formation headquarters in the Northeast and review various operational matters in the region -- a strategically key region having most of the 3,488-km-long- border with China. Of the 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim.
China has accused Indian troops of "crossing the boundary" in the Sikkim section and demanded their immediate withdrawal, while asserting that it has shut down the Nathu La pass entry for Indian pilgrims travelling to Kailash Mansarovar because of the border standoff. China also said that it has lodged diplomatic protests with India, both in New Delhi and Beijing, alleging that the Indian troops trespassed into Chinese territory in the Sikkim sector.
The Indian Army has not commented on the face-off. Chinese defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said on Monday that recently China has begun the construction of a road in Donglang region, but was stopped by Indian troops crossing the Line of Actual Control (LAC).