The continuous heavy rainfall which led to landslides killed five people in Sikkim on September 20.
Around 2 am a house collapsed after a landslide hit it following incessant rainfall at Upper Gurpisey, among the five people in the house three were killed and two survived with severe injuries. The deceased have been identified as Nikhil Rai(11), Nikita Rai(15) and Passingkt Bhutia(21). The injured were rushed to the Namchi Hospital and the buried bodies were taken out by the rescue team later.
The second landslide which occurred around 3 am at Upper Bokrong ward, Katong Namphok GPU took away the lives of a woman and her daughter as their house collapsed. The deceased woman has been identified as Manju and her daughter Angel.
Transportation has come to a standstill as all the roads in the area have been blocked and damaged.
A disaster control room had been set up at the Namchi Police Station said, SSP Pratap Pradhan. The district administration has further sought additional forces for search and rescue process.
The officials said that families have been evacuated from vulnerable areas.
Sources: Times of India, NDTV
Image source: Scroll
Around 2500 soldiers are further deployed at the Doklam plateau region, from the peace time deployments in Sikkim to re-assert India’s proactive stance in the border dispute with China. China has responded by mobilizing troops in the Khamba Dzong and other areas near its Chumbi Valley, which is located at a tri-junction of Sikkim, Bhutan, and China.
Flag meetings between local command heads have now become irrelevant and the de-escalation must start from politico-diplomatic level. A source to TOI further added that “the working mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, set up in January 2012, or talks between the two designated Special Representatives, is the only way to defuse the situation now.
Troops at the Line of Actual Control continue to be around 300-400, maintaining the “non-aggressive” line until further orders. But all Indian Army divisions along with infantry mountain units, each comprising of 10,000 soldiers are on “high operational readiness for any contingency”.
Doklam plateau continues to be strategically important for India, as it is in close proximity to the “Chicken Neck” area, which connects mainland India to the North-Eastern states.
Sources: Times of India, BuzzitUp
China is constructing road near the disputed area of Doka La which is claimed by India, China, and Bhutan as well. The Royal Bhutanese Army opposed the construction of the road at Doka La; India, in turn, intervened its army and halted the Chinese march ahead. The reason why this standoff is different from the past standoff between the two armies is due to the strategic location of Doka La. If China is able to make its road, it would be closer to the “chicken’s neck”, i.e. the narrow 50 km long Siliguri corridor which is the solo route connecting India with its North-East region. If a war breaks out in future, it would give China the upper hand in cutting out the north-east region from the rest of India.
The tension does not seem to subside after 18 days of standoff between both the armies, China has repeatedly asked India to retreat their troops and the Chinese media has also been very critical and mentioned that “India should have learned lessons from the 1962 war”. The Chinese have also stopped the Indian pilgrims to Kailash Mansarovar through Nathu La pass in Sikkim. Indian Defence Minister sharply replied to the Chinese media statement by mentioning that “If they are trying to remind us, the situation in 1962 was different and India of 2017 is different”.
Sikkim is one of the few regions where the Indian army has the upper hand in case of a conflict. India also has a brigade stationed inside “Ha Valley” in Bhutan, which would lead to the Chinese Army being trapped in a “funnel” in case a war breaks out. However, the construction of this road would seriously alter the status-quo. Indian Army would be stretched thin across the 4057-kilometer long land border if the Chinese army increases its ante near the area of Doka La.
Also at the strategic level, it comes at a time when India refused to join the Chinese initiative of developing a modern Silk Route i.e. OBOR (One Belt One Road) and Indian Prime Minister Modi during his visit to Washington. If Indian troops retreat, it would be a global embarrassment for India, as it has always taken the stance against the Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea and is unable to face China across its own borders.
Indian Army General Bipin Rawat has also visited the region, in order to assess the situation. Additional troops have been deployed by both the sides in case a war theater pops up.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of G 20 summit in Germany, and this standoff would surely be a part of their discussion. Interestingly, the Malabar exercise between India, USA, and Japan is going on with all the three navies incorporating their biggest ships in the war games in the Indian Ocean. Tension needs to be doused down soon, however; in the near future, it looks unlikely with the Indian army refusing to move.