NEW DELHI : There has been no intrusion into Indian territory in Ladakh and not a single Indian border post has been overrun, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told an all-party meeting on Friday, amid an unequivocal condemnation by Indian democracy of Chinese aggression that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.
“Neither anyone has intruded into our territory nor taken over any post. Our forces are doing what they have to do to protect the country, whether it is deployment, action or counter-action. Our patrolling capacity has increased due to newly built infrastructure, especially along LAC,” Modi said, referring to the line of actual control (LAC) between India and China.
At the three-hour-long meeting, Modi said that while India desired peace and friendship, “sovereignty is most important”.
“We have asked armed forces to take appropriate action and, simultaneously, we are reaching out to China through diplomatic channels to clearly state our views. Be it trade, counter terrorism, India has never come under pressure from outside,” he added.
Brahma Chellaney, a defence analyst with the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, said Chinese troops through their aggression have halted India’s patrolling.
“Does Modi’s statement signal India is willing to live with China’s forcible change of the status quo in the Galwan Valley and at Lake Pangong? By occupying unoccupied areas, China has put a halt to India’s patrolling of those areas and built positions overlooking Indian defences,” Chellaney asked.
Abhishek Singhvi, national spokesperson for the Congress, said that he feared Modi cleared China of any wrongdoing. “Genuinely worried at PM’s certificate that China has not crossed LAC! Hopefully not premature? Should not match China’s stand which says same thing! If such a serious skirmish with huge loss of Indian (and possibly Chinese) casualties, how can there be no transgression by China?” Singhvi said on Twitter late Friday night.
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) parliamentarian Manoj Jha said: “I would like to believe PM Modi but I also want to know why were our soldiers martyred in such a barbaric manner? We stand with our forces and the government but we will continue to ask questions.”
Earlier in the all-party meeting, opposition parties, primarily the Congress, questioned the government’s handling of the issue, saying the all-party meeting should have been called earlier and that opposition parties should be regularly briefed by the government.
Among suggestions were continuation of construction work along the border, placing curbs on imports from China, and barring Chinese firms from entering strategic sectors.
The sharpest remarks came from Congress president Sonia Gandhi. She called for regular briefings for political parties, and said “valuable time” was lost between 5 May and 6 June when meetings of corps commanders took place.
“This meeting, in my view, should have come sooner and immediately after the government had been reportedly informed about the Chinese intrusion on May 5th, 2020 into several places in Ladakh and elsewhere. As always, the entire nation would have stood together like a rock and fully supported the government of the day in the steps required to defend the territorial integrity of the country. Alas, that was not to be,” Gandhi said in her opening remarks. “The entire country would like an assurance that status quo ante would be restored and China will revert back to the original position,” she added.
West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee demanded that the Union government bar Chinese firms from entering sectors such as telecom, railway and aviation, even as she highlighted the need for India’s approach to be based on “democratic principles”.