The Congress on Friday stepped up its attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the border clash at Galwan Valley on June 15, and asked him to tell the people “without being afraid” whether China had occupied Indian territory in Ladakh.
A controversy erupted last week after the prime minister said that no outsider was inside Indian territory in Ladakh nor had any border post of the Indian Army been captured during the clashes with Chinese troops. However, a clarification issued by Modi’s office claimed that attempts were being made to give a “mischievous interpretation” to his remarks and said his comments referred to the situation at the Line of Actual Control after Indian soldiers had foiled China’s intrusion.
In three separate video messages released by party president Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul and daughter Priyanka, the Congress demanded that the government should take people into confidence on the extent to which the Chinese troops have occupied Indian territory. The messages were a part of the Congress’ “Speak up for our jawans” campaign.
“A few days ago, the prime minister said – no one has taken even an inch of Indian land [and that] no one is inside Indian territory – but we are hearing, satellite photos have shown, people in Ladakh are saying and retired generals are saying that China has snatched our land,” Rahul Gandhi said. “Not in one place but three.”
This came a day after satellite imagery and multiple news reports confirmed that, even as India and China continue to speak of disengagement, the Chinese structures that led to the violent clash in the Galwan Valley are back, with even more construction in place.
Urging Modi to speak the truth, Gandhi said: “Don’t be afraid. If you say that no land has been taken when it actually has, it will benefit China...The entire country is standing with you.” The Congress leader also reiterated his question about why the Indian soldiers were unarmed at the time of the fatal clash.
Sonia Gandhi, in her video message, said that the prime minister claims that China did not infiltrate India’s land, but on the other hand, the Defence Ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs keep discussing it. “Today, when we are paying tributes to our martyrs, India wants to know why and how our 20 soldiers were killed in Galwan Valley,” she added in her video message.
Meanwhile, Priyanka Gandhi, while paying her tributes to the soldiers who lost their lives, demanded that the Centre ensures that “not even an inch of land will be allowed to go”.
“What happened during the discussions that PM Modi had held with the Chinese that they were so emboldened to take over our territories?” Priyanka Gandhi asked, adding that it was everyone’s duty to ask questions of the government. “We will not allow the sacrifices of our soldiers to go in vain…. It will be a crime to disrespect their sacrifice.”
Earlier in the day, the Bharatiya Janata Party accused the Congress of having received funds from the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi for the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and questioned whether it was a “bribe to lobby” for a free trade agreement between India and China. This came amid Rahul Gandhi’s repeated allegations that the ruling party “surrendered” Indian territory, caving in to Chinese aggression in Ladakh.
Party president JP Nadda also accused the Congress of giving significant portions of Indian land to China, adding that the party has no moral right to speak about the country’s national security. “Due to the mistakes of one family, we lost 43,000 square kilometres,” he claimed.