Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not speaking about the 20 Indian soldiers killed in a violent face-off with Chinese troops in Eastern Ladakh’s Galwan valley on Monday and said that the country needed to know what happened.
“Why is the PM [prime minister] silent?” Gandhi wrote on Twitter. “Why is he hiding? Enough is enough. We need to know what has happened. How dare China kill our soldiers? How dare they take our land?”
On Tuesday, Gandhi’s party colleague Anand Sharma had asked the prime minister to firmly and appropriately respond to the most violent incident between India and China in more than 40 years. “Shocked to learn that 20 of our brave soldiers have been killed in Galwan valley of the western sector,” he had tweeted. “As we salute their martyrdom, the PM [prime minister] must take the nation into confidence. The gravity of the situation calls for a firm and appropriate response.”
According to NDTV, Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the military chiefs held a meeting on Tuesday night to discuss the violence in Ladakh.
At least 20 soldiers died during a clash with Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control on Monday, in an incident marking a massive escalation in border tensions between the two countries. There were casualties on the Chinese side too. At least 43 Chinese soldiers were either killed or injured in the clash, ANI reported, citing “Indian intercepts”.
An unidentified Indian Army official told AFP there was no shooting involved in the incident but “violent hand-to-hand scuffles”. The soldiers attacked each other with stones, according to Hindustan Times. Chinese troops hit Indian Indian soldiers with rods and clubs.
The Ministry of External Affairs had alleged that the face-off in Galwan Valley was due to China’s attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the area.
The Chinese military, on the other hand, blamed India for the violence. Senior Colonel Zhang Shuili, spokesperson for the Western Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, alleged that the Indian military crossed the Line of Actual Control – the disputed border between the two countries – and deliberately launched provocative attacks.