By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 20, 2020 6:29:55 pm
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an all party meeting to discuss the situation along the India-China border via video conferencing, in New Delhi, Friday, June 19, 2020 (PIB/PTI Photo)
Hours after the Prime Minister’s Office issued a clarification regarding Narendra Modi’s concluding remarks at the all-party meeting on the border issue with China, the Congress stated that the PMO’s statement was “clearly a lame attempt to obfuscate the truth”.
In its rejoinder to the PMO statement, the Congress posed several questions before the government, asking to state its position on the Galwan Valley, the site in Ladakh where 20 Indian soldiers were killed and 76 others injured in a violent face-off with Chinese troops on the night of June 15-16.
“First of all, PMO and the Government need to clearly state their position on the Galwan Valley. Is Galwan Valley not part of Indian territory? Why is Government not coming forward and strongly rebutting the Chinese claim over Galwan Valley? If Chinese troops are present there, does it not amount to intrusion into and occupation of Indian territory? Also, why is the Government silent on intrusions in the Pangong Tso area?,” asked Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.
Earlier in the day, veteran Congress leader P Chidambaram said that the PM’s remark that “no outsider was inside Indian territory” had practically left everyone “baffled and bewildered”. He said even after the PM’s statement on Friday, China had blamed India for the clashes and had reasserted its claim on the entire Galwan Valley. “What is the government’s answer to this claim? Now that China is claiming the entire Galwan Valley, will the Government of India reject this claim,” he asked.
Stating that the PMO’s statement “belittles the gravity of the situation” on the India-China Line of Actual Control (LAC), Surjewala then pointed out that security experts, Army Generals and satellite imagery have confirmed not only one intrusion on June 15 but several intrusions into and occupation of Indian territory in the Ladakh area.
“In the fourth paragraph, PMO’s statement says that with reference to the “events of 15 June at Galwan” the armed forces “repulsed the designs of the Chinese there. The Prime Minister’s observations that there was no Chinese presence on our side of the LAC pertained to the situation as a consequence of the bravery of our armed forces.” Clearly, the implication is that there was one intrusion on June 15 and it was repulsed,” Surjewala said, asking: “But what about the intrusions between May 5 and June 15?”
“We refer to several statements of the Defence Minister admitting to the presence of Chinese forces “in large numbers” and the statement of the Chief of Army Staff on “disengagement”. The Government has consistently demanded “restoration of status quo ante”. We also refer to the statement of MEA dated June 7 that both sides agreed to “resolve the situation in the border areas” and called for an “early resolution”. If there was no other intrusion into Indian territory, how were the Chinese present “in large numbers” or why was restoration of “status quo ante” being demanded or “disengagement” and “early resolution” being sought?,” he further asked.
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“We also refer to the statement of MEA dated June 17, 2020 that referred to the agreement reached on June 6 on “disengagement” and “de-escalation”. The June 17 statement also said “the Chinese side sought to erect a structure in Galwan Valley on our side of the LAC.” If Chinese troops are not present in Indian territory, why is the MEA harping on disengagement and de-escalation as late as on June 17, 2020?,” Surjewala continued.
All these, the Congress said, unmistakably point to the presence of Chinese troops at several places in the Galwan Valley and Pangong Tso Area that have to be brought under “disengagement” and “de-escalation”.
“Our information is that no such disengagement has been completed by the Chinese and, in view of their illegal claim to the whole of Galwan Valley, the onus lies on the Government to protect our territorial integrity,” Surjewala added.
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