Three days after new satellite images indicated the construction of a Chinese village east of the Doklam plateau on the Bhutanese side, India on Thursday said it keeps a constant watch on all developments having bearing on national security.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, responding to questions at a media briefing on the images, also said that India takes all necessary measures to safeguard its security interests.
"I do not want to get into commenting on media reports. Let me make a broader point, particularly in the context of Doklam that please be assured that the government keeps a constant watch on all developments having a bearing on India's security and takes all necessary measures to safeguard the same," he said. The images of the village emerged on Tuesday that showed the new settlement is fully inhabited with cars parked at the doorstep of virtually every home.
The Doklam plateau is considered an important area for India's strategic interest. The Indian and Chinese armies were locked in a 73-day stand-off at the Doklam tri-junction after China tried to extend a road in the area that Bhutan claimed belonged to it.
China has been ramping up border infrastructure in several sensitive locations including along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh where the Chinese PLA has been locked in an over two-year standoff with the Indian Army. In October last year, Bhutan and China signed an agreement on a "three-step roadmap" to expedite negotiations to resolve their festering boundary dispute.
Bhutan shares an over 400-km-long border with China and the two countries have held over 24 rounds of boundary talks in a bid to resolve the dispute. The two countries also held 10 rounds of negotiations at the 'Expert Group' level.
The Doklam tri-junction is considered important from the point of view of India's security interests. The India-China stand-off in the Doklam plateau in 2017 even triggered fears of a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. Bhutan said the area belonged to it and India supported the Bhutanese claim.
India had strongly opposed the construction of the road at the Doklam tri-junction as it would have impacted its overall security interests. The India-China face-off was resolved following several rounds of talks.