Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s Defence Minister said that India is ‘alert and ready’ for any situation that may arise in Doklam along the Sikkim border. That part of the border is a sensitive area where India and China were locked in an intense standoff last year.
She also assured that Doklam’s territorial integrity will also be maintained. This comes after the Indian ambassador to China refuted reports that China was building infrastructure along Doklam. Sitharaman was speaking from the Uttarakhand CM’s residence in Dehradun on the matter and said, “We are alert and ready for any unforeseen situation in Doklam. We are constantly working on the modernisation of our forces. We will maintain our territorial integrity.” India’s envoy to China, Gautam Bambawale said that the reason for the standoff last year was because China had made a move and India had reacted to it. He also said the only way to ensure peace was through talks.
She also said, “Today, many talks are doing the rounds in the public about the preparedness of our armed forces. I want to clarify that there is no laxity in the preparedness and modernisation of our forces. The government given all powers to the Vice Chiefs of the three services.” Sitharaman was in Uttarakhand to felicitate the students who cleared the National Defence Academy(NDA) and Combined Defence Service(CDS) examinations. The 140 students who cleared were given cheques worth 50,000 each.
The parliamentary committee on defence had recently submitted reports of a financial crunch that stopped it from purchasing equipment and that the limited finances were affecting the armed force adversely. She had to put these fears to rest and said that the government is working on it and unified commands were already implemented in Andaman in Nicobar. She allayed fears saying that the armed forces have been given a free hand to use emergency powers to purchase ammunition to help the forces’ preparedness.