No reduction in troops at Dokalam: India
India has not reduced its troops in Dokalam, senior government officials said on Wednesday, rebutting China's claim that the number of Indian security personnel at the tri-junction has come down.
They also asserted that there was a "status quo" at the Dokalam for past six weeks.
The strong rebuttal came after the Chinese government in a document issued on Wednesday claimed that 270 armed Indian soldiers crossed into the plateau which China considers its own on June 16, advancing more than 100 metres to obstruct Chinese road building activities in the region. However, "as of the end of July, there were still over 40 Indian border troops and one bulldozer illegally staying in Chinese territory."
The document released on Wednesday also attempts to drive a wedge in the extremely close relationship between India and Bhutan. The Chinese document says: "As a third party, India has no right to interfere in or impede the boundary talks between China and Bhutan, still less the right to make territorial claims on Bhutan's behalf. India's intrusion into the Chinese territory under the pretext of Bhutan has not only violated China's territorial sovereignty but also challenged Bhutan's sovereignty and independence."
There is no mention, however, of the fact that New Delhi and Bhutan have been working very closely to resolve the standoff. According to the External Affairs Ministry, Indian soldiers in the general area of Doka La had acted in coordination with Bhutanese personnel when the initial standoff occurred and had not acted unilaterally in preventing Chinese road construction.
India has also made it clear to China that the construction of roads in the Doklam area had a direct bearing on India's key strategic concerns. The road, India says, was being built on an area very close to the "chicken's neck," the sliver of land that links mainland India to the seven north-eastern states.
Countering the Chinese contention, sources here maintained that around 350 Indian Army personnel have been in Dokalam for last six weeks after China tried to build a road in the area, triggering the standoff.
China also said that it has conveyed its firm stand to India that it must take "concrete actions" by immediately pulling back troops from Dokalam with "no strings attached" to resolve the current standoff.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj last month had said that both sides should first pull back their troops for any talks to take place.
India also conveyed to the Chinese government that the road construction would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for it.