New Delhi: Opposition parties on Tuesday questioned the “silence” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on the violent clash between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh and asked them to take the nation into confidence on the matter, while the ruling BJP asserted that India’s borders will remain intact under Modi’s leadership.
A total of 20 Indian Army personnel were killed during a violent clash with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on Monday night, escalating the already volatile border standoff between the two sides, an army statement said.
Initially, the Army said one officer and two soldiers were killed. Later in the night, an army statement said 17 more soldiers who “were critically injured in the line of duty at the stand off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries, taking the total that were killed in action to 20.” The Congress said the Prime Minister must take the nation into confidence and the gravity of the situation calls for a “firm and appropriate response”.
“Shocked to learn that 20 of our brave soldiers have been killed in Galwan valley of the western sector. As we salute their martyrdom, the PM must take the nation into confidence. The gravity of the situation calls for a firm & appropriate response,” senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma tweeted.
Earlier, reacting to reports that an Indian Army officer and two soldiers were killed in the Sino-India face-off, the Congress termed their death as “deeply shocking, horrifying and unacceptable” and demanded answers from Prime Minister Modi on how this happened. The party also demanded that the government should convene a meeting to brief the leadership of political parties about the ground situation.
Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said reports of brazen Chinese transgressions at three points in Ladakh into Indian territory since April or May have caused grave concerns as the Modi government remained a “mute spectator”.
“To the distress and dismay of the entire nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh remain absolutely ‘mum’,” Surjewala said.
He said the prime minister and the defence minister must come forward and answer whether it is true that Chinese have killed an officer and soldiers of the Indian Army in the Galwan Valley and whether Indian soldiers have also been critically injured.
“If so, why are PM Modi and Defence Minister maintaining absolute silence?” he asked.
“Let Modi government remember that in our Parliamentary democracy, ‘secrecy or silence’ are unacceptable on part of our government,” he said.
Punjab Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Amarinder Singh said it is time now for the Centre to take some stringent measures as each sign of weakness makes China’s reaction more “belligerent”.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, ex-party president Rahul Gandhi, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot condoled the death of the soldiers.
Reacting to the border clash, BJP president J P Nadda asserted that the borders of India will remain intact under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi.
Addressing the ‘Kerala Jan-Samvad’ virtual rally, he referred to the India-China face-off and said during the de-escalation process a violent clash took place with the Chinese army on Monday night.
“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,” he said.
“We now have the political will and our Army is fully equipped to take (on) any adversary,” he said. Senior BJP leader B L Santhosh said Indian forces were resolute in forcing Chinese troops to “retreat” in a violent face-off in Ladakh, claiming that the loss on the adversary’s side could be “still more huge”.
“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,” the BJP general secretary (organisation) tweeted.
In a guarded reaction to the border face-off, Left parties said India and China should initiate talks to defuse tensions between the two countries in eastern Ladakh. The CPI(M) called on the government to come out with an “authoritative statement” to explain what happened in Galwan Valley, and said that high-level talks should be initiated between the two nations to defuse the situation.
The CPI, in a separate statement, said that it is believed that the present standoff can be resolved through talks and established frame-works agreed by both the countries. “Any military confrontation between the two major Asian countries not only impacts the cooperation and friendship between the two countries but also can jeopardise the peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” it said.
Former prime minister H D Deve Gowda termed the development “disturbing’ and said the government should offer a clearer picture to the nation on the border issue.
The Janata Dal (Secular) leader sought to know as to how Indian soldiers lost their lives during a de-escalation process and said Prime Minister Modi and Defence Minister Singh should come out with a clearer picture.