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Govt snoozing as China occupied Doklam; Modi, Sushma misled nation: Congress

The Congress’ reaction comes a day after media reports cited new satellite images to say China’s infrastructure build-up on the Doklam plateau included a “full-fledged” military base.

india Updated: Jan 18, 2018 21:14 IST
Agencies, New Delhi
Doklam standoff,Dokalam,India
File photo of Chinese army officers on the Chinese side of the international border at Nathula Pass, in northeastern state of Sikkim.(AP)

The Congress on Thursday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj of misleading the nation over Chinese troops occupying the Doklam plateau, saying Indian security and strategic interests have been compromised.

“The satellite imagery and media reports suggest that China has established military establishments in Doklam near Indian borders which indicates that India’s security and strategic interests have been compromised,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.

The Congress’ reaction comes a day after media reports cited new satellite images to say that the infrastructure build-up in Doklam — the site of a tense standoff between the two countries last summer — included a “full-fledged” military base.

NDTV and ThePrint reported that satellite pictures taken on December 10, 2017 — roughly three-and-a-half months after India and China agreed to end their stand-off — showed new helipads, trenches and construction work at the Doklam plateau.

ThePrint described one of the constructions as “concrete” and said that there was at least one complete mechanised regiment deployed. According to NDTV, the build-up was at two locations at the Doklam plateau and one of them was “a massive, full-fledged Chinese military complex”.

“It seems that the government was snoozing while the Chinese troops occupied the Doklam plateau as suggested by satellite images. And it seems China is planning Doklam 2.0 like retreat near the Indian borders,” said Surjewala. “The Prime Minister has mastered the art of electoral rhetoric as he has failed miserably to ensure the protection of our borders.”

Showing the satellite images, Surjewala said China had constructed a two-storey watch tower, seven helipads and several military establishments in Doklam.

“What is the government doing as China has occupied the entire Doklam plateau? Is the government, Prime Minister, defence minister aware of these constructions?”

Slamming Swaraj, Surjewala said the ministry of external affairs had issued a statement after the end of the three-month Doklam standoff, saying the troops of both countries were doing expeditious disengagement.

“Even Sushma Swarajji said (this) in Parliament. And when we asked about the details, she said the troops of both countries were returning to their posts. At that point, there was no reason to question her statement,” he said.

He said after the tensions at Doklam were resolved, the Chinese foreign ministry had said while it had withdrawn the troops, it shall keep on patrolling the area.

The Congress leader demanded to know how the issue of tri-junction at Doklam would be decided in future when the China had occupied the entire plateau.

Surjewala said: “In October, Modiji announced at a public rally that Doklam issue as a victory. However, the satellite imagery released in media reports suggest that Chinese troops have constructed military establishments.

On Wednesday, Indian army chief General Bipin Rawat said the Chinese military has carried out a “mostly temporary” buildup in Doklam.

“They have carried out some infrastructure development, most of it is temporary in nature. But while their troops may have returned and the infrastructure remains, it is anybody’s guess whether they would come back there, or it is because of the winter they could not take their equipment away,” Rawat said during a session in the multi-lateral ‘Raisina Dialogue’.

First Published: Jan 18, 2018 13:52 IST