The Darjeeling brigade of the army’s Sukna-based 33 Corps, which was mobilised nearly a month ago, has moved “very close” to the India-China border in Sikkim as part of the massive positioning of troops in the wake of the continuing standoff over the Doklam issue.
Army sources revealed to The Quint that contrary to reports that no artillery units of the 33 Corps had been mobilised, the long-range guns in the Tukla valley in East Sikkim, close to the Old Baba Harbhajan Mandir, have been strengthened.
All army communication lines have been reinforced as intelligence inputs indicate that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues to make “significant progress” in building bunkers and other fortifications on the Tibet side of the India-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction.
Army sources disclosed that the stretch of the undemarcated India-China border, the Line of Actual Control, along Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh has also been reinforced with additional troops brought over from other parts of the frontier state.
As the entire stretch of the LAC in the Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh sector is on high “operational area alert”, the Indian Air Force top brass is being engaged by the army command and efforts are on to sensitise crucial air bases in the northeast.
While the movement of the 33 Corps, which is stationed at Sukna near Siliguri in West Bengal, has been in response to the Chinese People's Liberation Army's efforts to reinforce their side of the border in Tibet with bunkers and other fortifications, the larger objective is "defensive" and therefore part of a strategy to build a show of force in the face of "continuing Chinese statements and building of bunkers that have a military objective".
The Indian army as well as the Ministry of External Affairs have sought to keep the latest mobilisation of troops under wraps with the actual movement of troops carried out over the last 20-25 days being described as "trickle up" so as not to cause any alarm in the border regions.
The standoff, one of the longest in the history of confrontations between the Indian Army and the PLA, is nowhere close to being resolved even after National Security Adviser Ajit Doval’s visit to Beijing last month, where he met his counterpart State Councilor Yang Jiechi on the sidelines of a BRICS nations’ meeting.
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