Disengagement with China a ‘surrender of rights’, says A.K. Antony

The Congress leader says it was a ‘betrayal’ of country to have a meagre hike in defence budget

The disengagement in the Pangong Tso area and the Galwan Valley and the creation of a buffer zone are a “surrender of India’s rights at the moment,” former Defence Minister A.K. Antony said on Sunday.

Mr. Antony cautioned that if China played mischief, it could help Pakistan capture Siachen as the “buffer zone” in the Galwan Valley would prevent Indian troops from accessing the Karakoram range.

Addressing a press conference, the senior Congress leader said it was a “betrayal” of the country to have a meagre hike in defence budget, especially since the country was facing a two-front war-like situation.

Mr. Antony alleged that the government did not increase the defence budget to “appease” China and give a message of no confrontation.

“To appease China, we have agreed to disengagement on China’s terms,” he alleged.

Mr. Antony said it was sad that the Narendra Modi government was not giving priority to national security at a time when China was getting belligerent and Pakistan continued to promote terrorism.

He said disengagement was good to reduce tension but not at the cost of national security.

“Both disengagements in Galwan and Pangong Tso are a surrender …. We are surrendering our rights,” he alleged, adding that the Galwan Valley was not disputed even in 1962 and was always Indian territory.

“Disengagement and buffer zone means surrender of our land at the moment,” he noted and asked the government to spell out when would it revert back to status quo ante as on April 2020.

When the armed forces were demanding support and substantial increase in the defence budget, the current budget had made a meagre and insufficient increase of only 1.48% .

“It is a betrayal of the country. The government has let down our armed forces. The government is not paying proper attention to national security,” Mr. Antony charged.

The Congress leader said the government should always consult leaders of all political parties before taking such a decision and must keep national security in mind.

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