New Delhi: Army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Wednesday that a number of Chinese troops are still present at Doklam, five months after a bitter 73-day standoff ended between India and China in the tri-junction with Bhutan.
“As far as Doklam is concerned, PLA (People’s Liberation Army) soldiers are there in a part of the area although not in numbers that we saw them in initially. They have carried out some infrastructure development which is mostly temporary in nature,” Rawat said in New Delhi.
Rawat’s remarks came a day after intelligence satellite inputs showed a troop build-up in Doklam just along the area where Indian troops are stationed.
“While troops (of the PLA) may have returned and infrastructure remains, it is anybody’s guess whether they would come back there or is it because of the winters that they could not take their equipment, but we are also there, so in case they come, we will face them,” Rawat added.
The army chief said that neither country was looking at violating the peace attained in Doklam in August.
“I think the bonhomie (between India and China) has returned to what was prior to Doklam, so I don’t visualize a very serious trouble, but then one has to be prepared for it always,” he added.
Defence experts suggested that while there would be no immediate fallout between India and China, the occasional troop buildups and defence exercises in the region were indicative of China exercising subtle pressure on India.
“China is trying to find a way out of the mess it had made at Doklam and it is struggling because of its aggressive posturing. These exercises are China’s way of testing us by putting immense pressure. They are jittery because we are silent on the matter and that is now taking a toll,” said Gaurav Arya, a former Indian army officer and defence expert.
Other experts added that both India and China were just trying to assert their dominance.
“It is now a question of domination and competitive conflict. India refuses to accept Chinese hegemony and China is trying to embarrass India through Doklam,” said H.S. Panag, a former Indian army officer and defence expert.