Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday launched a fresh attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the violent face-off between India and China in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on June 15, accusing him of surrendering to the neighbouring country. Gandhi had earlier alleged that the Centre was “fast asleep” while China attacked Indian soldiers.
“Narendra Modi is actually Surrender Modi,” Gandhi posted on Twitter along with the link to a comment on India’s policy towards China.
Later in the day, Gandhi attacked Modi again, alleging that satellite images have given the lie to the prime minister’s claim that Chinese troops did not cross into India. “The prime minister said – neither has anyone entered the country nor has anyone captured our territory,” the Congress leader tweeted, along with a clip from Aaj Tak. “But satellite images clearly show that China has captured Indian territory near Pangong Lake.”
Twenty Indian soldiers were killed and 76 injured in a violent clash with Chinese forces in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on June 15. China did not give an official count of casualties on its side but least 43 Chinese soldiers are believed to have been killed or injured in the clash. The face-off between the two neighbouring countries was the worst instance of violence on the border since 1975.
The incident marked a massive escalation of border tensions between the two nations, which have been rising through the last month. China has claimed the entire Galwan Valley, including areas currently on India’s side of the Line of Actual Control. India lashed out at China on Saturday, accusing it of trying to “advance exaggerated and untenable claims”.
On Saturday also, Gandhi had accused the prime minister of “surrendering Indian territory to Chinese aggression” in a tweet. “If the land was Chinese, why were our soldiers killed?” he had asked. “Where were they killed?” Gandhi’s party alleged that the Prime Minister’s Office made a “lame attempt to obfuscate truth” about the situation along the Line of Actual Control.
The Congress’ attack came after the PMO issued a clarification to Modi’s remark that no outsider had been inside the Indian territory in Ladakh, nor had any border post of the Indian Army been captured by outside forces during the face-off with Chinese troops. The PMO had said that the Opposition was trying to misinterpret Modi’s comment and creating an unnecessary controversy to lower the morale of Indian soldiers.
“The PMO and the government need to clearly state their position on Galwan Valley,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a rejoinder to the Centre’s statement. “Is Galwan Valley not part of Indian territory? Why is Government not coming forward and strongly rebutting the Chinese claim over Galwan Valley? If Chinese troops are present there, does it not amount to intrusion into and occupation of Indian territory? Also, why is the Government silent on intrusions in the Pangong Tso area?”
Surjewala added that the PMO’s statement “belittles the gravity of the situation” along the Line of Actual Control. “We sincerely urge upon the Prime Minister to follow ‘Raj Dharma’ and rise to the challenge of protecting national security and territorial integrity.”
Bharatiya Janata Party President JP Nadda, meanwhile, accused the Congress of being an irresponsible Opposition party and said that the party’s leaders were trying to demoralise the country and its soldiers. “The country’s soldiers are standing guard in Galwan Valley and the Congress is damaging their morale with its tweets,” Nadda said during a virtual address.