Updated: February 12, 2021 10:16:47 pm
Hours after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi targeted the Narendra Modi-led government alleging that it has given up the country’s territory to China, the Ministry of Defence on Friday asserted that India has not conceded any territory as a result of the agreement finalised with Beijing for disengagement of troops in Pangong lake areas in eastern Ladakh.
“The assertion that Indian territory is up to Finger 4 is categorically false. The territory of India is as depicted by the map of India and includes more than 43,000 sq km currently under illegal occupation of China since 1962,” the MoD said in a statement.
“Even the Line of Actual Control (LAC), as per the Indian perception, is at Finger 8, not at Finger 4. That is why India has persistently maintained the right to patrol up to Finger 8, including in the current understanding with China. Permanent posts of both sides at the north bank of Pangong Tso are longstanding and well-established,” it added.
“On the contrary, it has enforced observance and respect for LAC and prevented any unilateral change in the status quo,” it further said.
Earlier in the day, Gandhi had questioned the government over its agreement with China on disengagement of troops in eastern Ladakh. “Why has he asked the Defence Minister to make the statement, the Prime Minister should say – I have given Indian land to China, this is the truth,” he alleged.
He said it has emerged that Indian troops are now going to be stationed at Finger 3 at Pangong Tso lake. “Finger-4 is our territory, that is where our post used to be. So, now we have moved from finger-4 to finger-3. Why has Prime Minister Modi given up Indian Territory to the Chinese? This is the question that needs to be answered by him and by the Defence Minister,” Gandhi said.
“PM is a coward who cannot stand up to the Chinese. He is betraying the sacrifice of our Army. Nobody in India should be allowed to do it,” he said.
The Wayanad MP further asked why have Indian troops, after the hard work that they had done in capturing Kailash ranges, been asked to move back.
Gandhi’s attack on the Modi government came a day after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh shared with Parliament details of the pact to defuse the tense military face-off in eastern Ladakh that severely strained ties between the two Asian giants.
In the House, Singh also mentioned that there are still some outstanding issues regarding the deployment on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the region, which will be taken up in future talks.
As part of the process, Chinese troops will pull back from Finger 4 to east of Finger 8 on the Pangong north bank – they had come in 8 km west of Finger 8 which India says marks the LAC. Indian troops will be stationed at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3. For the time being, the stretch separating them will be a no-patrolling zone.
The border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5 following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas and escalated post the Galwan incident, in which 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers lost their lives. Both sides subsequently enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry even as the two sides continued military and diplomatic talks.
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