The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council in Kargil on Saturday suspended a Congress councillor, the same day the police arrested him after an audio clip surfaced of him allegedly mocking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian Army, in the context of the violent face-off between India and China along the Line of Actual Control, The Indian Express reported. The Congress too has expelled Zakir Hussain.
In the telephonic conversation with a friend, the councillor from Shakar constituency was heard using allegedly derogatory language against Modi and making fun of the Army, PTI reported. The police filed a first information report against Hussain on Friday, even as he issued an apology for his remarks. He also accused his friend of betraying him.
“As a Ladakhi and as an Indian, I have always been proud of my country and our people and I can assure that I will never do such a thing that would bring harm to the motherland,” Hussain said. “As a human being, all of us have private casual conversations between friends where we swear, abuse, and say all kinds of things without meaning them literally.”
A police spokesperson said the force determined that the conversation contained information “prejudicial to the regional or religious peace and tranquility, spreading rumours and seditious in nature”.
Ladakh Congress President Rigzin Jara expelled Hussain from the party, and condemned the conversation. “People of Kargil have a long history of standing behind to defend the nation and stand with the Indian Army during toughest of times,” he said. “We reiterate our unflinching loyalty to our nation.”
The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council issued a statement condemning the conversation and distancing itself. “LAHDC-Kargil deplores the content of this conversation in the strongest possible terms and also disassociates itself from it,” the council said following a meeting of its executive committee.
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”.