Doklam standoff: Indian Army orders evacuation of border village

Amid escalating tension between India and China, as the two countries’ Army face each other in a standoff at the border area of Doklam, the Indian Army has reportedly evacuated nearby village in the area. According to a report by News18, villagers from Nathang, located 35 kms from the site of the standoff, have been directed by the Indian Army to immediately evacuate. However, it is unknown whether the reason for the evacuation is to accommodate the Army or to avoid civilian deaths during in case of a conflict. Reportedly there have been heavy movement of troops in the area in the recent times.

Earlier in the day, Indian Express reported the movement of thousands of Indian Army soldiers of the 33 Corps looking after the China-Sikkim border. Reported the Army schedule for the 33 Corps’ Operational Alert has been advanced. China’s People’s Liberation Army has also been spotted with 80 tents at a distance of one kilometre from the vicinity of the stand-off site.

And as tension continues at the border, Bhutan has today denied Chinese foreign ministry’s claims, stating the disputed trilateral border area in the Sikkim sector is not Bhutan’s territory.

Days back, a top Chinese diplomat claimed that Bhutan had conveyed through diplomatic channels that the area of standoff in Doklam is not its territory. Reportedly, conveying the statement to visiting Indian media delegation, the Deputy Director General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs in China’s foreign ministry could not provide any concrete evidence to back her claim, which the Bhutan government has strongly refuted.

As reported by ANI, Bhutanese government said, “Our position on the border issue of Doklam is very clear. Please refer to our statement which has been published on the web site of Bhutan’s foreign ministry on June 29, 2017.”

Over the latest development in Doklam , the Bhutan government issued a press release on July  29th, and clearly stated that construction of road inside Bhutanese territory is direct violation of the agreement. In an official press release Bhutan claimed that the Chinese Army have started constructing a motor-able road in the Doklam area constructing a motor-able road from Dokola in the Doklam area towards the Bhutan Army camp at Zompelri on June 16, 2017.

The Bhutan government also claimed that the talks to mark the boundaries of the two countries had been in a written agreement in 1988 and 1998. According to officials, in the agreement the two countries had agreed to maintain peace and tranquility in their border areas. As mentioned in the agreement, the two countries have also agreed to maintain a status quo on the border as before March 1959 and refrain from using force or taking unilateral actions.

By Priyam Mukhopadhyay

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