New Delhi: In a major cause for concern for the Central Government and the Indian Army, Chinese troops earlier in June reportedly intruded one kilometre into Sikkim.
The transgression took place in the Finger Area, which China has laid claim to. India, however, has shied away from a confrontation with China on the alleged intrusion.
Last year the former Chinese ambassador San Yuxi said, "In our position, the whole of what you call Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory."
So it's not just Arunachal Pradesh, which China covets. Beijing has served notice that Sikkim too is now disputed with a Chinese border patrol reportedly intruding about one kilometer deep inside northern Sikkim.
Although the Chinese withdrew after registering their presence, the message was conveyed.
The contested area is the northern tip of Sikkim north of Gyangyong, which the Indian Army refers to as the Finger Area.
This is the first reported Chinese intrusion after their new territorial claim was discussed during External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's recent visit to China.
The Chinese have obviously dismissed Indian pleadings and the Indian response has been defensive.
"We are trying to avoid confrontation. That's why the dialogue is continuing," Union Defence Minister AK Antony replied.
There are indications from the Indian Army that earlier transgressions by the Chinese into Sikkim may have gone unnoticed.
That was because the Army formation tasked with guarding the frontier had been moved to Jammu and Kashmir.
India woke up to the Chinese designs on northern Sikkim only after troop strength was restored to the area late last year.
So far, Sikkim was considered a settled issue particularly after China acknowledged its accession to India.
But now it is clear that China considers Sikkim boundaries as negotiable.