Indian Army’s Eastern Command may get new chief amid China standoff in Sikkim | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Indian Army’s Eastern Command may get new chief amid China standoff in Sikkim

More than 700 Indian and Chinese troops are stuck in a faceoff at Doklam, a plateau located at the narrow but strategically important tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan.

india Updated: Jul 12, 2017 10:20 IST
Rahul Singh
The Eastern Command guards India’s undefined border with China.
The Eastern Command guards India’s undefined border with China. (AFP File Photo)

The Indian Army is likely to announce a change of guard at its Kolkata-headquartered Eastern Command, responsible for guarding India’s undefined border with China, on July 31, even as the militaries of the two countries are in a month-long standoff at an India-China-Bhutan trijunction close to the Sikkim border.

South Western army commander Lieutenant General Abhay Krishna is expected to replace Eastern Command chief Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi, who retires on July 31, army sources said. The appointment has to be cleared by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

Bakshi was one of the two generals overlooked by the government for the army chief’s post when General Bipin Rawat was assigned the top job in December 2016. Rawat’s experience in Kashmir and the northeast tipped the scales in his favour.

Krishna will be replaced at the Jaipur-based South Western Command by Lieutenant General Cherish Mathson, a former strike corps commander.

More than 700 Indian and Chinese troops are stuck in a faceoff at Doklam, a plateau located at the narrow but strategically important tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan. There are no signs of the standoff ending with both armies pitching up tents at the faceoff site.

China accuses India of trespass and preventing its soldiers from building a road in Doklam, or Donglang as the Chinese call it. The region is claimed by Bhutan.

In the last few days, the Chinese state media, which has aggressively taken up the border impasse, has raked up the Kashmir dispute to send a message to India. Chinese experts have gone to the extent of warning India against a “two-front conflict” with China and Pakistan.

Government sources monitoring the impasse said India was prepared to stay put in the region for as long as it was required and until a solution was found through diplomatic measures.

Amid the ongoing military standoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Sikkim, the navies of India, the US and Japan kicked off the annual Malabar series of naval drills in the Bay of Bengal on Monday. China has traditionally monitored the Malabar exercise.

The Indian Navy has sighted over a dozen Chinese warships, including submarines and destroyers, in the Indian Ocean region during the last two months. These vessels include a Chinese intelligence gathering ship, Haiwingxing, which is understood to have sailed into the ocean in June-end.