Political row erupts as Opposition takes on Centre

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The Congress on Tuesday said the deaths of an army officer and two soldiers in a violent face-off with Chinese troops were “deeply shocking, horrifying and unacceptable” and alleged that the Modi government has been a mute spectator to China’s transgressions in Ladakh area since April-May this year. The party’s statements came after the initial army statement. The army, late on Tuesday night, said, “During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place on Monday night with casualties. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers.”

The standoff between the troops of India and China in Ladakh will be discussed at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making body, on June 23.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said India has the political will and its army is fully equipped to take on any adversary and added that the borders of India will remain intact under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“During the de-escalation process that was underway in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh, a violent face-off took place with Chinese army. Indian army gave a befitting reply, but unfortunately, we have lost our three army men. I pay homage to them for their sacrifice and I can assure you that under the leadership of PM Modi, India’s territorial integrity will not be compromised,” BJP chief JP Nadda said, addressing a virtual rally for the party’s Kerala workers.

In a statement, Congress party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala questioned the “silence” of the Prime Minister and defence minister Rajnath Singh on the death of the Indian soldiers.

India and China are currently engaged in a military dialogue for an “early resolution” of the stand-off between their border troops that flared up in early May. Last week, the Indian army announced that the two sides started a “limited military disengagement” at three hotspots along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) – Galwan Valley, Patrolling Point 15 and Hot Springs – in eastern Ladakh, which has been the focus of the tensions.

However, Indian officials confirmed the build-up of Chinese forces has extended as far as Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

The talks continued, and were even held on Monday; that evening, the two sides scrapped violently. “To the distress and dismay of the entire nation, the Prime Minister and the defence minister remain absolutely mum. They must come forward and answer if the Chinese have killed an Indian army officer and soldiers in the Galwan valley? If true, it is indeed, deeply shocking, horrifying and unacceptable,” Surjewala said.

He alleged that the Modi government remained a “mute spectator” as reports of brazen Chinese transgressions at three points into the Indian territory in Ladakh since April and May this year have caused grave concerns.

“In last five decades, not a single casualty or martyrdom of our soldiers has occurred or happened on the Indo-China border i.e. LAC,” he said.

“There can be no compromise with India’s security and territorial Integrity. Reports of Chinese army moving thousands of troops in Galwan valley and Pangong Tso Lake area (Ladakh) shocked the entire nation as an audacious attempt on our territorial integrity,” the Congress leader added.

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “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.”

BJP’s national general secretary (organisaton) BL Santhosh tweeted, “…As a country it’s time to stand with our forces & Govt. Rest everything can wait.”

“Indian efforts at building infrastructure in a never before scale increased Chinese worries. Our forces were resolute in forcing Chinese troops to retreat. In the process yesterday we have lost 3 brave Deshbhakt soldiers . Veer Sadgati to the departed souls . The picture on the Chinese side is yet to emerge . It is still more huge,” he tweeted.

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