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India slams China, says Sikkim is a settled issue

Jun 19, 2008 12:25 PM IST India India
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New Delhi: India has come out strongly against reports of intrusion by the Chinese army personnel in Sikkim.

New Delhi has demanding an explanation from Beijing for the transgression by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) almost a kilometer inside Indian territory, before retreating.

Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence MM Pallam Raju said, "I think it is very unfortunate. Sikkim is a settled matter as far as India is concerned. But if really there has been a transgression, it would have been raised at a flag meeting and if there is still an issue as two responsible neighbours we will sort it out. I guess that is China's way of putting pressure of resolving the boundary dispute faster."

"There is no way that we will yield an inch. We will stand our ground. Both nations have too much stake. We are rising economies and trade between both countries is improving, relationship is strengthening. So these things should not derail whatever closeness that we are developing," Raju added.

The latest incursion by Chinese troops took place on Monday, with a vehicle-mounted patrol crossing almost one kilometer into Indian territory, in Sikkim's northernmost tip known as the 'Finger Area', which came to limelight in the wake of Chinese claims over the 2.1 sq km of land in north Sikkim.

The Indian Army has not denied the report and sources downplayed the incidents saying these transgressions were "a routine affair" in which the PLA personnel violate India's perception of the 4,057-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.

Beijing is now laying claim to the area despite New Delhi's position that the Sikkim border question is settled.

China has been stepping up incursions across the 200-km border between Sikkim and Tibet since the beginning of this year.

Army sources, however, say Chinese incursions into Sikkim is not limited to Finger Area.

They say so far in 2008, 71 incursions have taken place along Sikkim's entire frontage with China. Hence, Chinese is disputing not just the northernmost tip of Sikkim as reported so far, but the entire Sikkim boundary, they point out.

Also, there have been reports of over 150 transgressions by the PLA across the LAC last year.

During the recent visit of India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Beijing, the Chinese reportedly stunned him by raising the issue of Finger Area.

However, Defence Minister A K Antony and the Indian Army establishment have been repeatedly downplaying the transgressions as "misconception over the LAC" on the part of China.

"Just as the Chinese keep transgressing into the Indian territory as per their perception of LAC, Indian Army too keeps patrolling the areas under its control along the LAC," Antony had said recently.

Though ITBP claimed that the present transgression took place in an area that was not under their control, officials said they were not in a position to confirm or deny the incident.

(With inputs from PTI)

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