In Official Testimony to MPs, Government Revealed Full Story of Doklam

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New Delhi: The Indian government told a parliamentary panel that it intervened during China’s road-building exercise in southern Doklam due to the danger of the tri-junction being pushed further south and directly threatening the Siliguri corridor, but observed that any further Chinese build up in the upper reaches of the plateau would be a matter to be dealt between Thimpu and Beijing.
A draft report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs on Sino-Indian relations, including on Doklam, provides a detailed account of the government’s view on the unfolding of the 72-day stand-off, with the help of testimonies from former foreign secretary S. Jaishankar and his successor Vijay Gokhale, as well as defence secretary Sanjay Mitra.
While the draft report, seen by The Wire, was not tabled as scheduled in the just-concluded monsoon session, a copy has been handed over to the Ministry of External Affairs.On June 16 last year, a People’s Liberation Army team of around 70-80 personnel with 10-12 bulldozers were seen trying to build a motorable road from Doka La to Zompelri near the Bhutanese post. This, foreign secretary Jaishankar told the panel in October 2017, would have “brought them absolutely to the Siliguri corridor area”. He was referring to the narrow strip of land connecting mainland India with the northeastern region.
After the Bhutanese failed to turn back the Chinese, Indian troops came down from the Doka La post to confront them, initiating the longest ever face-off between the two army giants at Himalayan heights.Bhutan officially lodged a protest with China on June 20 through their mission in New Delhi.On the same day, a border personnel meeting was also held between India and China, where the latter announced that Indian mansarovar pilgrims will not be allowed to use the Nathu-la route. When the media got wind of returned Indian pilgrims, there was finally a hint in the public sphere of a major issue brewing behind closed doors.