Sushma’s statement on Doklam hides more than it reveals: Congress

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New Delhi, Aug 1 (IANS) The Congress on Wednesday said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swarajs remarks in the Lok Sabha about status quo on Doklam was “a dubious ploy” to make headlines and it “hides more than it reveals.”

In a statement, Congress communications incharge Randeep Singh Surjewala said the “denials, half-truths and doublespeak” on Doklam were endangering India’s national security and strategic interests.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should make a statement in Parliament placing all facts and tell his government’s policy on de-militarising the Doklam plateau.

The Congress leader said Sushma Swaraj’s statement on Doklam is covered with a “sheet of misleading opaqueness” and fails to provide the larger picture of Chinese presence in South Doklam.

Surjewala said China was staring at the “Siliguri Corridor – the Gateway to India’s northeast” — and Modi government was almost “ducking the Doklam question.”

Sushma Swaraj had said that there has been no change in the status quo at the site of the military face-off with China in Doklam and the issue was resolved with diplomatic maturity in August last year.

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“Modi government and Sushma Swaraj were conspicuously silent on the Chinese military buildup and new road construction in the south Doklam region, overlooking the Siliguri corridor,” Surjewala said.

Surjewala said Modi had met Chinese President Xi Jinping thrice during the last four months but there is “no conclusive reaction” from his government to the reports about the Chinese military build-up in the region.

He said no word on Doklam emanated during visits of Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to China in April this year.

“Sushma Swaraj’s vacuous statement on Doklam in Parliament today speaks volumes about the Modi government’s uncertain foreign policy and continuous flip-flops to the Chinese misadventure in Doklam which is harming India’s strategic interests,” he said.

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Surjewala said that External Affairs Ministry statement of August 28 last year had said that both India and China have agreed on “expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site at Doklam” but the Chinese Foreign Ministry statement had said that the “it shall continue to patrol the Doklam area through its Armed Forces”.

The Congress leader said that the party had pointed to heavy Chinese military presence in Doklam in January this year based on satellite images, the External Affairs Ministry had issued a vague statement that initially denied the Chinese military presence in the region.

He said media reports and satellite imagery had suggested that the Chinese Army has not only built a full-fledged Chinese Military Complex in Doklam but also occupied the entire Doklam plateau right upto 10m from Indian Army post.

The images had shown concrete posts, seven helipads, new trenches and several dozen armoured vehicles close to the point where the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops were locked in a 73-day confrontation last year, he said.

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Surjewala said Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed the veracity of these satellite images and Sitharaman had belatedly accepted in parliament that PLA had “constructed sentry posts, trenches and helipads in Doklam area to maintain troops during winter”.

He also referred to visit of Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou to Bhutan in July and said he had discussed Doklam issue.

Sushma Swaraj had told the Lok Sabha that there was dispute between China and Bhutan about north Doklam and it was for not India to comment.

“The BJP is utterly consumed in managing headlines for domestic expansion and has completely forgotten the Chinese presence in north and south Doklam,” he said.

–IANS

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