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Stand-off with China: Army Chief arrives in Sikkim

NEW DELHI: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat arrived in Sikkim capitol Gangtok on Thursday even as a standoff continues between Indian and Chinese troops in a sensitive sector along the Sino-India border.

The Army chief intends to take stock of operational matters and interact with top commanders in the formation headquarters of the force in the border state. Official sources, however, described General Rawat’s visit as routine.

The genesis of this latest face-off is reportedly linked to Donglang, a narrow but strategically important tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan. However, tension has been mounting since earlier this month between the Indian and Chinese armies, after a scuffle between Indian troops and personnel of China’s People’s Liberation Army in a remote border area.

During his two-day visit, General Rawat will travel to a number of 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 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).

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