New Delhi, May 17: China has surprised India by laying claim on a small tract of land in North Sikkim, even threatening this week to demolish existing stone structures there. India has strongly rebutted these claims, lodged an official protest and barred Chinese troops from entering the area.
Referred to as the 'Finger Area' by Indian armed forces, this territory falls north of Gyangyong in Sikkim and overlooks a strategically important valley known as the Sora Funnel. It contains several stone cairns, which are essentially heaps of stones that can be used for shelter. On Thursday, at the periodic division commander-level flag meeting in Nathu La, India made it clear that it will not allow Chinese troops to enter the area and will strongly enforce this measure.
A day earlier, in Beijing at a lunch meeting between Indian officials led by Indian Ambassador to China Nirupama Rao and a Chinese team led by Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister for Foreign Affairs He Yafei, a key member of the Chinese delegation called aside a senior Indian diplomat and conveyed Chinese objections on the row building up in North Sikkim.
And in that informal off-the-record conversation, the Chinese side is believed to have gone to the extent of saying that its troops would soon demolish the stone cairns. A surprised Indian side is said to have pointed out that this would be a breach of the treaty to maintain peace and tranquility along the LAC.
Though off-the-record, the message of China"s “informal threat" officially reached New Delhi, which then made it clear at the military-level meeting that the Indian Army will not tolerate any more transgression into this area by Chinese troops. This has created a bit of tension, but the general view is that, at present, the issue had not gone beyond posturing.