The Indian Army on Saturday dismissed allegations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to a hospital in Leh the previous day, to meet soldiers injured in the Galwan Valley clash last month, was staged.
“There have been malicious and unsubstantiated accusations in some quarters regarding the status of the facility visited by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi during his visit to the General Hospital at Leh,” the Army said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that aspersions are being cast on how our brave Armed Forces are treated. The Armed Forces give the best possible treatment to their personnel.”
Some political leaders and people on social media had pointed out that the military facility where Modi met the injured soldiers did not look like a hospital at all. “There are photographers in the place of doctors and no drips, medicines or water bottles are to be seen,” Congress leader Abhishek Dutt tweeted on Friday.
Dutt’s party colleague Salman Nizami also launched a sharp attack on Modi over his “photo-op” with the injured soldiers. “Mr Modi was born to lie,” he claimed in a tweet. “First he says no one entered our territory. Then he does photo-op with jawans wounded in Chinese incursion.”
The Army clarified that it had converted a hall into a ward for the soldiers. “The facility [where the prime minister went] is part of the Crisis Expansion capacity of 100 beds and is very much part of the General Hospital complex,” the army said. “The COVID-19 protocol had necessitated some wards of the General Hospital to be converted into isolation facilities. The injured braves have been kept there since their arrival from Galwan to ensure quarantine from COVID areas. The Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane and the Army Commander have also visited the injured braves in the same location.”
Several other social media users had also raised doubts over the lack of medical equipment.
On Friday, the prime minister paid a surprise visit to Ladakh amid heightened border tensions between India and China. The prime minister had delivered a speech in which he praised the soldiers for their bravery and courage in the face of external aggression. Modi had also hit out at China and said that there was no place for expansionism in the world.
Indo-China tensions heightened following a violent clash between soldiers of the two countries on June 15 along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed and 76 were injured in the worst instance of violence between the two neighbouring countries in over 40 years.