Gipmochi

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Prevailing border of Bhutan on OpenStreetMap; Sikkim to the west and Chumbi Valley to the north

Gipmochi (Gyemo Chen or Gamochen, 'The Great Queen'[1]) is a mountain in the Lower Himalayas in south central Asia.[2] Rising to a height of 14,523 feet (4,427 m), the mountain sits on the border between the northern Indian state of Sikkim and Bhutan, at China's claimed tri-junction point. Bhutan and India, however, claim that the tri-junction point is 6.5 km to the north, at Batang La.

An 1876 map depicting Sikkim, Chumbi Valley and Bhutan[3]

The Imperial Gazetteer of India states that the Dongkya range (or Chola range) that divides Sikkim from the Chumbi Valley bifurcates at Gipmochi into two great spurs, one running to the south-east and the other to the south-west. Between the two spurs lies the valley of the Dichul (Jaldhaka) river. The "western shoulder" of Gipmochi was said to contain the trijunction point of Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet.[4] The southwest spur mentioned in the Gazetteer forms part of the boundary between Sikkim and Bhutan. The southeast spur, called the Zompelri ridge (or Jampheri ridge), currently separates the Bhutanese districts of Haa (to the north) and Samtse (to the south).

The area bounded by Gipmochi and Batang La, extending about 5 km to the southeast, forms a plateau called Dolam or Doklam plateau. Some British travel maps from the 19th century (prior to official surveys) mark this plateau as "Gipmochi Pk" and show its alignment with the Sinchela pass (on the northern ridge of the plateau).[3] Bhutan did not have a map of its lands till 1961.[5]

Border dispute[edit]

The Chinese claim of the trijunction point is based on the 1890 Anglo-Chinese Convention,[6] Article I of which states:

The boundary of Sikkim and Tibet shall be the crest of the mountain range separating the waters flowing into the Sikkim Teesta and its affluents from the waters flowing into the Tibetan Mochu and northwards into other rivers of Tibet. The line commences at Mount Gipmochi on the Bhutan frontier and follows the above-mentioned waterparting to the point where it meets Nipal territory.

The Article mentions Gipmochi as being on Bhutan border, but no other details regarding Bhutan were given. Bhutan was not a signatory to the Convention.[5] Further, Gipmochi is not the highest point on the Doklam plateau. Merug La, at 15,266 feet, and Sinchela, at 14,531 feet, are higher, making the Batang La–Merug La–Sinchela line the highest watershed in the region.[5][7]

Maps of Sikkim produced by Survey of India in 1923, 1933 and 1937 show Gipmochi as the tri-junction point,[8][9][10][11] On 30 June 2017, the Chinese government released a previously-published Chinese map depicting their territory extending south to Gipmochi.[12]

However, a map from 1910 that shows the details of the Chumbi Valley and Bhutan gives Batang La as the tri-junction point.[13] Indian sources state that the Survey of India map of 1956 and other maps since then by both Indian and Bhutanese sources have depicted the tri-junction near Batang La.[14]

The 2017 border dispute between China and India likely stems from India's security concern of its Siliguri Corridor. A Chinese observation post on the mountain of Gipmochi would have a clear view of this vital corridor which is heavily fortified by Indian troops. Scholar Caroline Brassard states, "its strategic significance for the Indian military is obvious."[15][16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bell, Charles (1992) [first published 1927], Tibet Past and Present, Motilal Banarsidass, p. 14, ISBN 978-81-208-1048-8
  2. ^ "Mount Gipmochi: Bhutan". National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b Sir Clements Robert Markham (1876). Narratives of the Mission of George Bogle to Tibet and of the Journey of Thomas Manning to Lhasa. Trübner and Co.
  4. ^ Imperial Gazetteer of India: Provincial Series, Usha, 1984, p. 487
  5. ^ a b c Manoj Joshi, Doklam, Gipmochi, Gyemochen: It’s Hard Making Cartographic Sense of a Geopolitical Quagmire, The Wire, 20 July 2017.
  6. ^ Government of China 2017, p. 1: According to the Convention, the Dong Lang area, which is located on the Chinese side of the boundary, is indisputably Chinese territory. For long, China’s border troops have been patrolling the area and Chinese herdsmen grazing livestock there.
  7. ^ Srinath Raghavan, China is wrong on Sikkim-Tibet boundary, livemint, 7 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Bengal, Bhutan, Nepal, Sikkim and Tibet". University of Texas Libraries: Online topographic map collections. Survey General of India. 1923.
  9. ^ "Bengal, Bhutan, Nepal, Sikkim". Old maps online. Survey of India Offices. 1933.
  10. ^ "Bengal, Bhutan, Nepal, Sikkim". Old maps online. Survey of India Offices. 1937.
  11. ^ Risley, H. H. (2005). "Sikhim". In Suresh Kant Sharma; Usha Sharma (eds.). Discovery of North-East India: Geography, History, Culture, Religion, Politics, Sociology, Science, Education and Economy. Sikkim. Volume ten. Mittal Publications. p. 13. ISBN 978-81-8324-044-4.
  12. ^ Odisha Sun Times Editorial Desk. "Now China releases 'map' to prove its claim over Donglong". Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  13. ^ Manoj Joshi, Doklam, Gipmochi, Gyemochen: It’s Hard Making Cartographic Sense of a Geopolitical Quagmire (Map 5), The Wire, 20 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Why There's Trouble on the India-China Border". Rediff News. 29 June 2017. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  15. ^ Brassard, Caroline (2013), "Bhutan: Cautiously Cultivated Positive Perception", in S. D. Muni; Tan, Tai Yong (eds.), A Resurgent China: South Asian Perspectives, Routledge, p. 76, ISBN 978-1-317-90785-5
  16. ^ Ankit Panda, What's Driving the India-China Standoff at Doklam?, The Diplomat, 18 July 2017.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 27°16′00″N 88°57′00″E / 27.266667°N 88.95°E / 27.266667; 88.95