Two days after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told his Chinese counterpart that Chinese troops had sought to erect a structure in Galwan valley on the Indian side of the LAC, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that neither has anyone intruded into the Indian territory nor has anyone captured any military posts.
“Na wahan koi hamari seema mein ghus aaya hai, na hi koi ghusa hua hai, na hi hamari koi post kisi doosre ke kabze main hai. Ladakh mein hamaare 20 jaanbaaz shaheed hue, lekin jinhone Bharat mata ki taraf aankh uthakar dekha tha unhe wo sabak sikhakar gaye,” the Prime Minister told top political leaders in his concluding address after a nearly three-hour-long all-party meeting that discussed the situation on the India-China border.
According to an MEA statement issued on June 17 after Jaishankar spoke with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the External Affairs Minister had “recalled that at the meeting of senior Military Commanders held on 6th June, an agreement was reached on de-escalation and disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)”.
“Ground commanders were meeting regularly to implement this consensus throughout the last week. While there was some progress, the Chinese side sought to erect a structure in Galwan valley on our side of the LAC. While this became a source of dispute, the Chinese side took pre-meditated and planned action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties. It reflected an intent to change the facts on ground in violation of all our agreements to not change the status quo,” the statement said.
A day earlier on June 16, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said that the Chinese side had “departed from the consensus to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley”. India was “very clear”, the spokesperson said, “that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the LAC”, and “we expect the same of the Chinese side”.
Following the Prime Minister’s remarks that no one had intruded into Indian territory, 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?”
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, on the other hand, tweeted that the Prime Minister had assured all political parties that India was capable of protecting its borders, and that the armed forces had been given the freedom to take necessary steps.
The all-party meeting saw an aggressive Congress president Sonia Gandhi asking several questions to the Government on intelligence inputs regarding the Chinese build-up along the LAC, and creation of infrastructure for the border areas.
Most of the other parties, however, expressed solidarity with the government.
The PM said that the entire country is hurt and outraged by the Chinese action. “I want to assure you that our armed forces are leaving no stone unturned to protect the county. Be it deployment, action or counter action, through land, sea or air, our forces are doing whatever needs to be done to protect the country,” he said.
India, Modi said, has the capability to ensure that “no one can even dare look at even an inch of our soil”. While on the one hand, the Army had been given the freedom to take all necessary steps, on the other, India’s position had been conveyed very clearly to China through diplomatic means, he said.
“India wants peace and friendship but upholding our sovereignty is foremost to us,” Modi said. He said the government has given primacy to ramping up infrastructure on the border areas in the last five years, and had focused on meeting the requirement of the forces, be it fighter jets, modern helicopters, or missile defence systems.
The Army’s capacity to patrol particularly along the LAC has increased because of the newly created infrastructure, the PM said. “And because of increased patrolling… there is more alertness and we get to know timely the developments at LAC and consequently are able to monitor and respond better… Ab tak jinko kuch poochha nahin tha, koi rokta-tokta nahin tha, ab hamare jawan dagar-dagar par unhe rokte hain, unhe tokte hain,” he said.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar gave a presentation explaining the chronology of the events leading to the violent clash between the Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Galwan valley. He also briefed the leaders on the ups and downs in ties with China, and the agreements and protocols signed between the two countries.