Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday (June 19) asserted that neither has anyone intruded into Indian territory nor has anyone taken over any post at the all-party meeting called by him to discuss the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) near India-China border.
Indian forces are doing what they have to do to protect the country, whether it is in terms of deployment, action, or counter-action, Modi told political leaders.
“Our patrolling capacity has increased due to newly built infrastructure, especially along LAC,” he said.
The leaders present in the meeting included Congress President Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and BJP chief JP Nadda were also present.
The Prime Minister and leaders taking part in the meeting paid tributes to soldiers who lost their lives in the violent face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.
Twenty Indian soldiers lost their lives in the face-off which happened as a result of an attempt by the Chinese troops to unilaterally change the status quo during the de-escalation in eastern Ladakh.
Indian intercepts have revealed that the Chinese side suffered 43 casualties including dead and seriously injured in the violent clash.
Leaders of about 20 parties took part in the meeting through video conferencing convened by Prime Minister Modi himself.
In his closing remarks, Modi said the whole country is hurt and angry at what the Chinese have done.
India wants peace and friendship, but its sovereignty is supreme, he said.
While the meeting saw most political parties backing the government’s stand against China, Congress President Sonia Gandhi sought details of the intrusion and posed a series of questions for the government.
Sources said that Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and former Defence Minister Sharad Pawar said that issues of whether soldiers carried arms or not are decided by international agreements and “we need to respect such sensitive matters”.
The sources said Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said that all-party meeting was “a good message for the nation”.
“It shows that we are united behind our jawans. TMC strongly in solidarity with the government,” she said.
She said that the government should not allow Chinese firms to enter crucial sectors like telecommunications, railways and aviation.
“Don’t let China enter telecom, railway and aviation sectors. We will face some problems but we won’t allow the Chinese to enter. China is not a democracy. They are a dictatorship. They can do what they feel. We, on the other hand, have to work together. India will win, China will lose. Speak with unity. Think with unity. Work with unity. We are solidly with the government,” Banerjee said.
The sources said Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao said that clarity displayed by Prime Minister on Kashmir has angered China.
“PM’s emphasis on Kashmir’s development has also angered China,” he said, adding that the call of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ has also rattled the neighbouring country.
Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said India wants peace but it does not mean weakness and it is in China’s nature to betray.
“We are all one. This is the feeling. We are with you, PM. We are with our forces and their families. India wants peace but that doesn’t mean we are weak. China’s nature is betrayal. India is ‘mazboot’ (strong) not ‘majboor’ (weak). Our government has the ability to ‘Aankhein Nikalkar Haath Me de dena’ (take out the eyes of the enemy),” he said.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader MK Stalin said the entire country is united in its spirit of patriotism and welcomed the recent statements by the Prime Minister concerning the border tensions.
The CPI-M said the government should initiate high-level talks so that steps are taken including clear demarcation of LAC to maintain peace and tranquillity on the border.
Sonia Gandhi, however, targeted the government over its handling of “intrusions” by China in Eastern Ladakh, saying it lost time, “failed” to use all avenues which resulted in the loss of lives of 20 soldiers in violent face-off in Galwan Valley and asked if there was an intelligence failure.
She said the entire country would like an assurance that status quo ante would be restored and China will revert back to the original position on Line of Actual Control.
Gandhi said the opposition parties and people were still in the dark about many crucial aspects of the crisis.
She posed specific questions and asked if the government did not receive, on a regular basis, satellite pictures of the borders of the country and if intelligence agencies had reported any unusual activity along the LAC.
She asked when Chinese troops intruded into India’s territory in Ladakh and when did the government find out about the Chinese transgressions.
The Congress chief further urged the Prime Minister to share with opposition leaders all the facts and the sequence of events beginning April this year to date.
“The question is, what next? What is the way forward? The entire country would like an assurance that status quo ante would be restored and China will revert back to the original position on Line of Actual Control,” she said.
The Congress leader said the opposition parties should be briefed about the preparedness of defence forces to meet any threat and asked about the current status of Mountain Strike Corps with two mountain infantry divisions sanctioned in 2013.
(With inputs from agencies.)