Representational image. | Image Courtesy: The Hindu
New Delhi: Defence experts, Army veterans, Opposition parties and common citizens were left perplexed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on Friday that nobody had entered Indian territory and not a part of it has been grabbed by “anyone”. Social media was pained, asking if everything was fine, then why did we lose 20 young jawans?
To top it, China has reportedly laid claim to Galwan valley, the eye of the storm, blaming India for the border clash in the strategic Ladakh region.
On Saturday, the Congress took on the government, asking it to immediately clarify its position on China's claim to the entire Galwan Valley in Ladakh, saying any delay in rejecting Beijing's stand would have "terrible consequences".
Communist Party of India (Mraxist) general secretary, Sitaram Yechury, too, asked Modi to “make up his mind and speak”
“Mr Modi should first make up his mind and then speak, unless his attempt was to mislead all the political parties and weaken our position in diplomatic talks,” Yechury tweeted.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remark that no outsider was inside Indian territory in Ladakh, had practically left everyone "baffled and bewildered".
He said even after the prime minister's statement on Friday, China had blamed India for the clashes that left 20 Indian Army personnel dead and had reasserted its claim on the entire Galwan Valley.
"What is the government's answer to this claim? Now that China is claiming the entire Galwan Valley, will the Government of India reject this claim," he asked.
The Congress leader said if the government does not reject the Chinese claim today on Galwan Valley, "I think it would have terrible consequences".
Earlier, the Congress, especially vice president Rahul Gandhi, had been demanding answers from the government on the entire Ladakh face-off with China, the loss of 20 jawans and several injured.
Earlier, Congress leader Chidambaram said the Chinese claim had been consistent with what they have been saying since the last two weeks, "it is the Indian position as articulated by the Prime Minister that has come as a total shock".
He asked the Prime Minister to define what the "Indian territory is".
Chidambaram said it is quite obvious that the PM's statement contradicts the earlier statements made by the Chief of Army Staff, the Defence Minister and the Foreign Minister.
The Congress leader said if no Chinese troops had crossed the LAC and are in Indian territory, what was the "face-off" for.
"Between May 5 and June 6, what was the issue on which local Indian commanders were talking to their Chinese counterparts? What was the subject matter of the negotiations between the Corps Commanders of the two countries on June 6," he asked, posing a series of questions to the government.
"We would also like to ask, if no Chinese troops were inside Indian territory, where did the clashes take place on June 15-16? Where were 20 Indian soldiers killed and 85 injured?" he also asked.
Chidambaram said if no Chinese troops are in Indian territory, why did Foreign Minister S Jaishankar's statement and other statements of the Ministry of External Affairs demand the "restoration of status quo ante".
"What was the meaning of 'status quo ante'. What was the meaning of the 'disengagement' that the government said was 'underway'?
"If no Chinese troops are inside Indian territory in Ladakh, why did 20 soldiers have to make the supreme sacrifice," he asked.
The former union minister asked what the prime minister meant when he said a few days ago that the "sacrifice of our soldiers will not go in vain".
"What did he have in mind? Why and where did the soldiers sacrifice their lives, and how will the government ensure that the sacrifice will not be in vain," he asked.
The prime minister's office on Saturday called as "mischievous interpretation" the criticism over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks at an all-party meeting that no one has entered Indian territory or captured any military post while referring to the Galwan Valley clash in eastern Ladakh.
Chidambaram said the Congress is asking these questions while reiterating its total support to the government and India's defence forces.
To a question on calls for boycotting Chinese goods, the former Union finance minister said he does not think it may hurt the Chinese economy.
Late Saturday evening, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), came out with a statement, saying that India’s position with regard to Galwan Valley area had been “historically clear”. It rejected China's claim of sovereignty over the Valley.
“Attempts by Chinese side to now advance exaggerated and untenable claims with regard to LAC in Galwan are not acceptable,” said MEA, while admitting that trouble had been brewing since early May, as the “Chinese side has been hindering India's normal patrolling pattern in this area.”
The MEA also said that “attempts of transgression by Chinese side were invariably met with appropriate response from us.”