by Khalid Bashir Gura
SRINAGAR: On June 19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressed the nation to assure countrymen that “Neither have they (Chinese) intruded into our border nor has any post been taken over by them. Twenty of our jawans were martyred, but those who dared Bharat Mata, they were taught a lesson.”
He was speaking during an all-party meet convened in view of June 15 Galwan incident in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed and 76 others wounded, and ten captured and later released.
Modi’s denial of any Chinese incursion in Ladakh’s Galwan region quickly drew reactions from different quarters including politicians and defence analysts.
Colonel (retd) Ajai Shukla tweeted: “Did I see Prime Minister @ narendramodi redrawing the Sino-Indian border on TV today? Modi said nobody entered Indian Territory. Has he conceded to China the Galwan River valley and Fingers 4-8 in Pangong Tso – both on our side of the LAC — and where Chinese troops now sit. If, as @narendramodi said today, nobody entered Indian territory, what is all the fuss about? Why the military-to-military dialogue, why the diplomatic talks, why the military disengagement, why the deaths of 20 soldiers?”
Lt Gen (retd) Prakash Menon said: Modi has capitulated and said that kuch hua hi nahi (nothing has happened in terms of territorial loss)! OMG. Is there a case for his trial for treason because he just reiterated China’s stand? What is the legal/ constitutional position? Help!”
Major Gen (retd) Sandy Thapar: So there is no intrusion and no Indian posts lost! So our boys went into Chinese land to ‘evict’ them? Exactly what the PLA is saying! It has taken just 48 hrs for India to whitewash the sacrifice of the magnificent 20 braves of 16 BIHAR. Shame!
Major (retd) Birender Dhanoa: Are we allowed to ask maarte maarte kahan mare?
Major (retd) D.P. Singh: Heard @PMOIndia, No one can reduce my or any soldier’s morale but I thought he will raise it more. I was wrong.
Speaking to The Wire, former national security advisor Shivshankar Menon expressed his surprise over the prime minister’s choice of words, calling it “an ill-considered and inaccurate statement that concedes territory and the gains of aggression.” “If this is so”, he added, “why and where were our soldiers killed?”
Pravin Sawhney, editor of FORCE magazine said India would have to pay “a heavy price for the appeasement of China, and soon…. The Chinese see appeasement as a sign of weakness which they will exploit to the fullest.”
“I can’t figure out why [Modi] should have done this, contradicting his own army top brass and external affairs minister,” a former Indian diplomat with extensive experience dealing with China told The Wire on condition of anonymity. “There will be a domestic political price to pay no matter how they try and spin it. So there must have been a bigger price to be paid to justify this utterly pathetic climbdown. What is that? I can’t believe this was inadvertent.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi this morning tweeted two questions for the government, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an all-party meeting to discuss the India-China clash.
“PM has surrendered Indian territory to Chinese aggression. If the land was Chinese: 1. Why were our soldiers killed? 2. Where were they killed?” Rahul tweeted.
In a report on NDTV, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram targeted Prime Minister Modi for giving China a “clean chit” and enquired why was there a clash between troops on June 16-17 if there was no foreigner in Indian territory.
“Prime Minister said there is no foreigner (meaning Chinese) in Indian territory. If this is true, what was the fuss about May 5-6? Why was there a fight between troops on June 16-17? Why did India lose 20 lives?” Chidambaram asked.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said: “Then there is no conflict? Why have our brave soldiers been martyred? Why this all-party meeting?”
AAP leader Sanjay Singh asked: “Has India dropped its claim on the Galwan Valley? If China has not occupied our territory then what are we discussing with China?”
As several shell-shocked military veterans and others tried to figure out what Modi meant, an interpretation was shared with The Telegraph by a former foreign secretary of India.
The former foreign secretary said: “I think he’s basically saying that at this moment neither side can be said to be in the area that saw the action on Monday night. All quiet on the western front. The bloodshed happened, our men were martyred, we fought bravely, taught the enemy a lesson and the area now is clear.”
Meanwhile, on today the government in a statement said that “Prime Minister’s observations that there was no Chinese presence on our side of the LAC pertained to the situation as a consequence of the bravery of our armed forces”.
“The sacrifices of the soldiers of the 16 Bihar Regiment foiled the attempt of the Chinese side to erect structures and also cleared the attempted transgression at this point of the LAC on that day,” the government said.
“What is Indian territory is clear from the map of India. This Government is strongly and resolutely committed to that. Insofar as there is some illegal occupation, the APM (all-party meeting) was briefed in great detail how over the last 60 years, more than 43,000 sqkm has been yielded under circumstances with which this country is well aware. It was also made clear that this Government will not allow any unilateral change of the LAC,” the government said today.
“At a time when our brave soldiers are defending our borders, it is unfortunate that an unnecessary controversy is being created to lower their morale. However, the predominant sentiment at the All Party Meeting was of unequivocal support to the Government and the armed forces at a time of national crisis. We are confident that the unity of the Indian people will not be undermined by motivated propaganda,” it said in the statement.