Opposition party flags standoff in areas beyond Pangong Tso.
The Congress questioned Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement on the disengagement exercise between Indian and Chinese troops on the LAC, asking the government on why it has backed out from its earlier claim that the Chinese troops will be removed from all parts of Ladakh settling instead for “selective disengagement” only in Pangong Tso area.
Addressing a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Delhi, Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala said the Defence Minister seeks to mislead and misinform, without giving full assurance on Chinese withdrawal from India’s territory in aforementioned areas.
He said the Modi government had so far claimed that there has to be ‘complete disengagement and withdrawal of troops by the Chinese in the entire Ladakh area’.
The Congress leader asked,“Why is the Modi government then agreeing to a selective disengagement only in Pangong Tso Area and that also by presumably changing the LAC to India’s disadvantage?”
Mr. Singh’s statement does not give unequivocal assurance of restoration of ‘status quo ante’ as on April, 2020 when the first Chinese incursions happened. Even in Pangong Tso Area, India was occupying Finger 4 and was patrolling upto Finger 8 on the North Bank. India’s stance has been clear and unequivocal — LAC is upto Finger 8. As per the Defence Minister’s statement, Indian troops will withdraw now to Finger 3, the Congress said.
Mr Surjewala asked,“Is it not tantamount to redrawing the LAC to India’s disadvantage and creating a buffer zone between Finger 3 and Finger 8 on our side of the LAC? Is this not a blatant compromise on India’s territorial integrity?”
The Congress charged the government with agreeing to withdraw “our men from the vantage points on Kailash ranges on the southern bank of Pangong Tso area that our forces manage to capture in the last few months”. The Congress demanded an explanation from the government on agreeing to leave the dominant positions without any quid pro quo by China.
“One of the most strategic and provocative incursions into the Indian territory by Chinese is in ‘Depsang Plains’. Chinese have occupied our territory 18 kilometres inside the LAC upto Y-Junction (bottleneck) and are stopping our armed forces from patrolling upto the PP-10, PP-11, PP-11A, PP-12 and PP-13,” Mr Surjewala said.
He said, that unlike the present capitulation by the Modi government, the UPA had successfully repulsed Chinese troops, after a six-month long stand off in 2013 when they had intruded upto U-junction.