Amid the ongoing Sikkim standoff between India and China at Doklam, the Ministry of External Affairs has said that the neighbouring country has not shared the monsoon data (hydrological) on the Brahmaputra river since May 15, 2017 and termed it a violation of bilateral agreement. However, the ministry has maintained that it is as yet too premature to link it with the recent floods in various parts of the country. The development also comes in the backdrop of the stone throwing incident in Ladakh region.
Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar also did not confirm whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to China next month to attend Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) summit, saying he does not have any information about it.
Asked about the current status of the standoff, he said, “It is a sensitive issue… We will continue to engage with China to find mutually acceptable solution. Peace and tranquillity in border areas are important pre-requisites for smooth development of bilateral relations.” However, he quipped, “I am not an astrologer, so cannot predict”, when asked by when the Dokalam standoff will be resolved.
Asked if China has shared hydrological data with India in the backdrop of floods in Assam, Kumar said there is an existing expert-level mechanism, established in 2006, and there are two MoUs under which China is expected to share hydrological data on rivers Satluj and Brahmaputra with India during the flood season of May 15 to June 15.
“For this year, we have not received hydrological data from the Chinese side,” the spokesperson said. However, he added that it was “premature” to link it with the floods in Assam.
He also noted that in view of floods in Bihar, India was closely coordinating with Nepal, both at Centre and state- level. Asked about the reported comments of the Japanese Ambassador on Dokalam face off and if India welcomes it, Kumar gave a very guarded reaction, saying the remarks speak for themselves. The Japanese ambassador was quoted in media as saying that no country should use unilateral forces to alter the status of Dokalam.
“We recognise Dokalam is a disputed area between Bhutan and China and two countries are engaged in border talks… We also understand that the India has a treaty understanding with Bhutan that’s why Indian troops got involved in the area,” the ambassador had reportedly said. Kumar also refused to divulge details of communication by other countries to India on the Dokalam issue.
Asked about a clash between Chinese troops and Indian border guards in Ladakh on August 15, the MEA spokesperson said, “Such incidents are not in the interest of either side” but refused to give details about the incident. He, however, emphasised that the incident should not be linked with what was happening in any sector, apparently referring to Dokalam face off.
He said two border personnel meetings (BPMs) had taken place between Indian border guards and Chinese troops recently. He said one BPM had taken place at Chushul on August 16 and another one at Nathu La a week before. Asked about a video, posted by Chinese state-run media, which portrayed Indians in a very poor taste, he said he does not want to “dignify” it with a response.