Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said the only talks worth holding with the Chinese were to restore the “status quo ante” as of March this year. He was referring to Chinese troops allegedly occupying Indian territory along the Line of Actual Control over the past six months.
“The only ‘talk’ to have with China is about restoration of ‘Status Quo Ante’ as of March 2020,” Gandhi tweeted. “PM [Narendra Modi] & GOI [Government of India] refuse to take responsibility for pushing China out of our land. All other ‘talk’ is worthless.”
Military leaders of the two countries have been holding dialogue on the border for several months, despite repeated skirmishes. On Thursday, India’s Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. The two ministers agreed on a five-point plan to defuse tensions between the countries and said the current situation in the border areas of Ladakh was “not in the interest of either side”. They agreed, therefore, that the border troops of both sides should “continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions”.
However, Gandhi remained unsatisfied. In another tweet, he mocked the Centre over Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s assertion that the coronavirus pandemic was an “Act of God”. Gandhi asked if the Chinese taking Indian land was also an “Act of God”.
Gandhi made his first appearance at the parliamentary panel on defence on Friday, News18 reported. So far, Gandhi had not attended any meetings of the committee. At the meeting, Gandhi asked why there was a difference in food served to the jawans and the officers stationed at the border, the news channel reported.
Chief of defence staff says Indian Army ready for any situation
Meanwhile, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat also addressed the meeting. Rawat told the attendees that the Indian Army was ready to face any eventuality on the border with China, NDTV reported.
Rawat said the Indian Army has taken adequate steps to thwart any attempts by China to further change or alter the status quo along the Line of Actual Control. He added that the Indian armed forces will give a “befitting reply” to the Chinese in case of any “misadventure”.
The India-China conflict
Tensions between India and China have flared up again after the June 15 clash in Galwan Valley, when 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed.
Several rounds of military level talks have failed to break the impasse. Both sides have accused the other of fresh provocations, including allegations of soldiers crossing into each other’s territory, in the months after their deadliest standoff in decades.
On September 7, China accused India of “outrageously firing warning shots” in a new confrontation on the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake, describing it as as “a serious military provocation”. India denied this and said Chinese troops attempted to close in on Indian forward positions along the Line of Actual Control and “fired a few rounds in the air”. This was the first confirmed use of firearms on the Line of Actual Control by troops in more than four decades.
On September 1, the Ministry of External Affairs had said that Chinese troops engaged in “provocative action” on August 31, while discussions between ground commanders were underway. This followed by earlier moves on the intervening night of August 29 and 30, which, the Indian Army said, were “provocative” military movements to change the status quo.