Congress's Rahul Gandhi questioned Defence Minister Rajnath Singh over the Ladakh face-off
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi posed five questions to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday over the government's handling of the "violent face-off" between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh's Galwan valley this week.
Responding to Mr Singh's tweet, which called the death of 20 Indian soldiers "deeply disturbing and painful", Mr Gandhi said the Indian Army had been "insulted" by the Defence Minister not naming China in his tweet. Mr Gandhi also demanded to know why Rajnath Singh had tweeted a full two days after the clash between the two militaries - the first involving fatalities since 1975.
"If it was so painful, Why insult Indian Army by not naming China in your tweet? Why take 2 days to condole? Why address rallies as soldiers were being martyred? Why hide and get the Army blamed by crony media? Why make paid-media blame Army instead of GOI?," he tweeted.
If it was so painful:
1. Why insult Indian Army by not naming China in your tweet?
2. Why take 2 days to condole?
3. Why address rallies as soldiers were being martyred?
4. Why hide and get the Army blamed by the crony media?
5. Why make paid-media blame Army instead of GOI? https://t.co/mpLpMRxwS7
Hours before Rajnath Singh had tweeted: "The loss of soldiers in Galwan is deeply disturbing and painful. Our soldiers displayed exemplary courage and valour in the line of duty and sacrificed their lives in the highest traditions of the Indian Army".
The loss of soldiers in Galwan is deeply disturbing and painful. Our soldiers displayed exemplary courage and valour in the line of duty and sacrificed their lives in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) June 17, 2020
Rahul Gandhi tweeted his condolences on Wednesday, writing: "Words cannot describe the pain I feel for the officers and men who sacrificed their lives for our country. My condolences to all their loved ones. We stand with you in this difficult time".
He also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his silence on the incident, writing: "Why is the PM silent? Why is he hiding? Enough is enough. We need to know what has happened. How dare China kill our soldiers? How dare they take our land?"
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi also criticised the Prime Minister, demanding he explain how China managed to grab Indian territory and why 20 soldiers had to sacrifice their lives for the nation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded Thursday, ahead of a video conference with chief ministers to discuss the coronavirus crisis, saying: "The country will be proud to know that our soldiers died fighting the Chinese... India wants peace but when provoked, it is capable of giving a fitting reply".
The PM also called for an all-party meeting on Friday to discuss the violence.
Monday's clash, a severe escalation after weeks of tension along the border, erupted when a small Indian patrol party moved to remove a Chinese tent in the Galwan valley. China had agreed to remove the tent after talks between Lieutenant General-ranked officers of both sides on June 6.
The incident involved no shooting but "violent hand-to-hand scuffles".
The soldiers threw punches and stones at each other and the Chinese troops allegedly used rods and nail-studded clubs during the fight that lasted for hours until midnight on Monday, according to reports.
India responded Tuesday night, saying casualties "that could have been avoided had the agreement at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side".
China, in an aggressive statement after the incident, had accused India of crossing the border and "attacking Chinese personnel", news agency AFP reported.
With input from AFP