Sushma, Sitharaman did not confront China on Doklam: Congress

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Bengaluru, April 25 (IANS) The Congress on Wednesday accused the Narendra Modi government of not confronting China during visits of two union ministers to the neighbouring country over “full-fledged military complex” in Doklam and a new road to the south of the plateau.

In a statement, the party said that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited China for bilateral meetings with their counterparts but did not raise the two issues while accusing the Modi government of “compromising” country’s security and national interests.

“Every patriotic Indian was deeply distressed and surprised by complete omission of the two cabinet ministers to confront China on creation of full-fledged Chinese military complex in Doklam right up to 10 metres from an Indian Army post,” said the statement issued by Congress leaders Randeep Singh Surjewala, Priyanka Chaturvedi and Rajeev Gowda.

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It said the two ministers also also failed to confront China over “a new road South of Doklam plateau to provide easy access to China to Jhamperi Ridge overlooking the Siliguri Corridor i.e strategic Chicken’s Neck, which is India’s gateway to the northeastern states”.

Noting Modi was slated to visit China later this month for an informal summit meeting with President Xi Jinping, it asked if he will take up the issue.

The Congress said that tri-junction at Doklam was an all-important issue for Bhutan and even more important for India’s strategic interests in relation to the “chicken’s neck”, adding it will support every endeavour to protect the country’s security and strategic interests but hoped that Modi government will provide the answers.

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Congress leaders said that in June last year India’s armed forces stopped China from building a road in Doklam plateau, which led to a 73 day stand-off and the government subsequently issued a statement that both sides have agreed on “expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site at Doklam”.

The statement said that while Modi even came close at claiming “victory” at Doklam last October, media reports and satellite imagery suggested that the Chinese Army has not only built a full-fledged military complex in Doklam but also occupied the entire plateau right up to a short distance from an Indian Army post, while latest latest satellite imagery taken from Google Earth on Wednesday shows further construction.

The Congress said that Modi government had in January denied any such construction and the apparent Chinese threat in response to questions posed by it, but later admitted in Parliament that the Chinese Army “had undertaken construction of some infrastructure”.

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–IANS

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