Air force chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa on Thursday said Chinese troops are still stationed in the Chumbi valley in Doklam area and hoped they go back soon. Asked about the situation at Doklam, the Air Force Chief said there was no standoff, but Chinese troops continued to be in the Chumbi valley, in the southern reaches of Tibet along the Line of Actual Control. The Air Force chief also hoped that India and China will diplomatically resolve the issue. “The two sides are not in a physical face off as we speak, in face to face contact. However, their (Chinese) forces in Chumbi valley are still deployed,” Dhanoa said. “I expect the forces to withdraw in the future as their exercises in that area get over,” he said.
“Both countries are major economic and political powers in the region, I expect them to display maturity in resolving the issues. Peaceful resolution of such issues will be in the interest of both countries and I am confident that at the political and diplomatic level it is being done,” he said at the annual press conference of IAF ahead of the Air Force Day on October 8.
The Air Force Chief also made it clear that there were no air space violations during the two-and-a-half month long stand-off in Doklam, though Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force was present in the Tibetan plateau on two airfields. “The Chinese air force during the summer months always carries out an exercise in Tibet in which their two main airfields were full even during the Doklam operations. They will start clearing out as the weather becomes colder and their exercise gets over,” Dhanoa said.
“As far as flying goes, we have these measures, armed fighters don’t go beyond 20 km from the perceived LAC that was not violated by either side,” he said. “We had a standoff on the ground but in the air there was no standoff.” He said IAF’s role during the stand-off was limited to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. “Our basic thrust was on ISR through various medium, we did want to know what was happening. We did not infringe on this boundary.” The IAF Chief however added that the IAF is always “ready for any contingency which may or may not take place”.