New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) Describing the statement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) as a lame attempt to obfuscate the truth and belittle the gravity of the situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, the Congress dared the government to clearly state its position on Galwan valley and asked whether it is part of India or not.
The remarks from the Congress came soon after the PMO on Saturday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was clear that India would respond firmly to any transgression attempts at the LAC. It said "attempts are being made in some quarters to give a mischievous interpretation" to his remarks at the All-Party Meeting (APM) held on Friday on the Galwan stand-off and the killing of 20 Indian soldiers by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops in Galwan valley on Monday night.
In a statement, Congress national media in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said "The PMO's statement is clearly a lame attempt to obfuscate the truth." He said first of all, the PMO and the government need to clearly state their position on the Galwan Valley. "Is Galwan Valley not part of Indian territory? Why is government not coming forward and strongly rebutting the Chinese claim over Galwan Valley? If Chinese troops are present there, does it not amount to intrusion into and occupation of Indian territory? Also, why is the government silent on intrusions in the Pangong Tso area?" Surjewala asked. He said that the PMO's statement "belittles" the gravity of the situation on the India-China LAC.
Surjewala added that security experts, Army Generals and satellite imagery have confirmed not only one intrusion on June 15, 2020 but several intrusions into and occupation of Indian territory in the Ladakh area. Slamming the government, Surjewala said, "PMO's statement says that with reference to the events of 15 June at Galwan the armed forces repulsed the designs of the Chinese there. The 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."
"Clearly, the implication is that there was one intrusion on June 15 and it was repulsed," the Congress leader said and asked about the intrusions between May 5 and June 15. "We refer to several statements of the Defence Minister (Rajnath Singh) admitting to the presence of Chinese forces in large numbers and the statement of the Chief of Army Staff on disengagement. The government has consistently demanded restoration of status quo ante," he said.
Surjewala also referred to the statement of the Ministry of External Affairs issued on June 7 that both sides agreed to resolve the situation in the border areas and called for an early resolution. "If there was no other intrusion into Indian territory, how were the Chinese present in large numbers or why was restoration of status quo ante being demanded or disengagement and early resolution being sought?" he questioned.
He referred to the statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry on June 17 that referred to the agreement reached on June 6 on disengagement and de-escalation. He said that the June 17 statement also said the Chinese side sought to erect a structure in Galwan valley on our side of the LAC. "If Chinese troops are not present in Indian territory, why is the MEA harping on disengagement and de-escalation as late as on June 17?" he asked.
Surjewala said that all these unmistakably point to the presence of Chinese troops at several places in the Galwan valley and Pangong Tso area that have to be brought under disengagement and de-escalation. "Our information is that no such disengagement has been completed by the Chinese and, in view of their illegal claim to the whole of Galwan valley, the onus lies on the government to protect our territorial integrity."
He also urged the Prime Minister to follow 'Raj Dharma' and rise to the challenge of protecting national security and territorial integrity.