We are alert and ready for any situation in Doklam: Sitharaman

DEHRADUN, MAR 25: India is ready to take on any unforeseen situation in Doklam, said Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday. The statement comes days after Chinese President Xi Jinping said they are prepared to fight a bloody battle against its enemies.
On Saturday Indian envoy Gautam Bambawale claimed that any attempt by China to change the status quo along the Indian border may lead to another Doklam-like stand-off between the two nations.
“We are alert and ready for any unforeseen situation in Doklam. We are constantly working on the modernization of our forces. We will maintain our territorial integrity,” Sitharaman.
Indian and Chinese troops were locked in a 73-day-long standoff in Doklam from June 16 last year after India stopped the building of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. The face-off ended on August 28, 2017.
“In order to maintain the peace and tranquillity (along India-China border), there are certain areas, certain sectors which are very sensitive, where we must not change the status quo. If anyone changes the status quo, it will lead to a situation like what happened in Doklam,” Bambawale said.
Earlier this month, the Defence Minister told Parliament said China has undertaken construction of helipads, sentry posts and trenches for its army personnel there.
Sources said China has been keeping its troops in north Doklam and significantly ramping up its infrastructure in the disputed area.
In January, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had said the time had come for India to shift its focus from borders with Pakistan to the frontier with China, indicating the seriousness of the situation.
Meanwhile, both India and China have been rapidly modernising their military with a focus on advanced hardware.
While India has inked deals with numerous countries like France, Russia, Israel and the United States for military hardware, China is focusing on exponentially increasing its expeditionary capabilities.
On Tuesday, President Xi Jinping said, “Not a single inch of our land will be or can be ceded from China.”
“We are resolved to fight the bloody battle against our enemies,” Xi added
It is pertinent to mention here that itwas reported a few days ago that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was trying to circumvent Indian troop positions with a road axis in the Doklam area near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction.
Bambawale also once again emphasised that China should not change the status quo along the Indian border. “In the sense that if the Chinese military is going to build a road, then they must tell us ‘we are going to build a road’. If we do not agree to it then we can reply that, ‘look, you’re changing the status quo. Please don’t do it. This is a very, very sensitive area,” the envoy said.
He cautioned that “if anyone changes the status quo, it will lead to a situation like what happened in Doklam.” “The Chinese military changed the status quo in the Doklam area and therefore India reacted to it. Ours was a reaction to the change in the status quo by the Chinese military.”
China is reportedly looking to take over Doklam or the Dolam Plateau to add strategic depth to its Chumbi Valley.
Sources said that PLA troops were “trying to work around or outflank” the Indian Doka La military outpost by constructing a new 1.3-km long road and “communication trenches” around 4-km away from the spot.
This axis is significant as it could allow them access toward the Jampheri Ridge in south Doklam, as the PLA had wanted before last year’s stand-off between the two sides.