The source stressed there was no additional force deployment. Representational pic
India's military has increased operational readiness along the eastern Indian border with China, sources said, as neither side shows any sign of backing down from a face-off in a remote Himalayan region near their disputed frontier.
Indian and Chinese troops have been embroiled in the seven-week confrontation on the Doka La plateau, claimed by both China and India's tiny ally, Bhutan.
The sources, who were briefed on the deployment, said they did not expect the tensions, involving about 300 soldiers on each side standing a few hundred feet apart, to escalate into a conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbours, who fought a brief but bloody border war in 1962.
But the military alert level had been raised as a matter of caution, two sources in New Delhi and in Sikkim said. "The army has moved to a state that is called 'no war, no peace'," one of the sources said. Under the order issued to troops in the eastern command a week ago, soldiers are supposed take up positions that are earmarked for them in the event of a war, the source said.
Each year, Indian troops deployed on the border go on such an "operational alert" usually in September and October. But this year the activity has been advanced in the eastern sector, the source in Sikkim said. "It's out of caution. It has been done because of the situation," the source said. But the source stressed there was no additional force deployment and that the area was well defended.
Swaraj meets minister
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj yesterday met her Bhutanese counterpart Damcho Dorji at Kathmandu and is understood to have discussed bilateral issues, amidst the standoff. The leaders are attending a meeting of foreign ministers from the countries of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), a grouping of countries in South Asia and South East Asia.
Number of soldiers on each side at Doka La