Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday alleged that the Congress disrupted Question Hour in the Lok Sabha over clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in Arunachal Pradesh as the party wanted to avoid the matter about the cancellation of the foreign funding licence of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.

Soon after proceedings started in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Congress and other Opposition parties staged protests over the clash in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang sector on December 9. The Union defence ministry said in a statement on Monday evening that few soldiers from both sides had sustained “minor injuries” in the skirmish.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reiterated the details in a statement made in the Lok Sabha at 12 pm. Earlier in the day, the Lower House had to be adjourned as the Opposition parties demanded a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a discussion on the clashes. Congress MPs had also submitted adjournment motions in both Houses of Parliament.

However, speaking to reporters during the adjournment, Shah claimed that the Congress disrupted Parliament proceedings as a ploy to avoid a question about the cancellation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act licence of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.

Shah said that the protests staged by the Opposition parties were unjustified as the defence minister was already scheduled to make a statement on the clash.

“But then I saw question number five on the Question Hour list and I could make sense of the Congress’ anxiety,” the home minister said. “It was about the cancelling the FCRA registration of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. A Congress member only had asked the question. We had the answer ready. But they disrupted the House.”

In October, the Centre had cancelled the foreign funding licence of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust, non-governmental organisations associated with the Gandhi family.

The action was taken after the Union home ministry had set up an inter-ministerial committee in 2020 to coordinate investigations into alleged violations of the foreign funding law by the two organisations.

The committee had been set up after the Bharatiya Janata Party accused the Congress of having received funds from the Chinese embassy in New Delhi for the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, and had questioned whether it was a bribe for a free trade agreement between India and China.

On Tuesday, Shah said that the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation had received Rs 1.35 crore in donations from the Chinese Embassy during the financial years 2005-’06 and 2006-’07. The donations were made in violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, he said.

Adding that the donations were given for research on the development of ties between India and China, the home minister took a dig at former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

“Due to the love shown by Nehru ji, India had to sacrifice permanent membership of the Security Council...Was this part of the research?” he questioned. “Did they also research on how China grabbed thousands of hectares of Indian territory?”

Indo-China clash in Arunachal Pradesh

In his statement in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Defence Minister Singh said that no soldier was killed and there were no serious injuries. The minister added that the local commander had spoken to his Chinese counterpart on the matter on December 11 to restore peace in the area.

However, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Arunachal Pradesh unit chief and party MP Tapir Gao told the United Kingdom-based daily The Telegraph that six Indian soldiers were severely hurt and flown to Guwahati. He added that at least 20 Indian soldiers were wounded by Chinese troops in hand-to-hand combat.

The clashes in Tawang are the first such incident since Indian and Chinese troops faced off in the Galwan Valley in East Ladakh in June 2020.

Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the clash. China had put the number of casualties on its side at four. In September, the two sides agreed to disengage at Patrolling Pillar (15) in the Gogra-Hotspring border area in Ladakh after a consensus was reached in the 16th round of military talks.

In October 2021, the Indian Army had detained some soldiers of China’s People’s Liberation Army after they engaged in a minor clash near the Yangtse area in Tawang.