Updated: February 12, 2021 2:50:07 pm
Day after Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced in Parliament that India and China have reached an agreement on disengagement in the North and South bank of Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hit out at the government questioning why Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given up the country’s territory to China.
Pointing out that the troops are now going to be stationed at Finger 3, moving back from Finger 4, which is also Indian territory, he asked, “Why has Mr Modi given up our territory to the Chinese”.
Addressing a press conference on the matter, Gandhi further stated that the “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 Congress leader further asserted that it is the responsibility of the Prime Minister to protect the territory of the country. “How he does it is his problem, not mine,” he added.
Rahul Gandhi also targeted Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for not speaking in the Parliament on the “most important strategic area – Depsang Plains – from where China had entered.”
He reiterated, “The truth is that the Prime Minister has given away the Indian territory to China” and demanded Modi to answer the nation.
Hitting back at Gandhi, the BJP accused the Congress leader of “lying left, right and centre” and denigrating the country’s security forces, and said the “nation cannot forgive the Gandhi family for losing 43,000 sq kms of land to China”.
“When one does not have a moral conscience, when one cannot contribute anything positive, one resorts to lies. Rahul lied left, right and centre. Perhaps Rahul is depressed that he could not become PM. He knows that even his shadow won’t support him & can’t digest the huge public mandate to PM Narendra Modi,” Union minister and BJP leader Pralhad Joshi said.
With Gandhi making his attack on Modi personal, Joshi alleged that the former Congress chief’s “utterances” are based on far-fetched presumptions and raise “serious doubts on his mental health”. “The selective amnesia which Rahul often displays seems a regular order. Denigrating efforts and sacrifices of our security forces, whom you are placating? Why? Because you got some donation for your party? Can’t forget your meeting with the Chinese?” Joshi said in a social media post.
Rajnath Singh had on Thursday announced in the Parliament that India and China have reached an agreement on disengagement in the North and South bank of Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh that mandates both sides to cease forward deployment of troops in a “phased, coordinated and verifiable” manner, signalling a breakthrough after a nine-month border standoff.
Sharing details of the pact to defuse the tense military face-off in eastern Ladakh that severely strained ties between the two Asian giants, Singh also assured the Rajya Sabha that India has not conceded anything in the sustained talks with China. India will not allow even an inch of its territory to be taken by anyone, he had said.
The defence minister said implementation of the pact will “substantially restore” the situation to the one which existed prior to the standoff that erupted on May 5 last, adding the two sides have agreed they should achieve complete disengagement at the “earliest” and abide fully by the bilateral agreements and protocols.
The briefing in Rajya Sabha came a day after China announced the disengagement process. He stated that “China will pull its troops on the north bank towards the east of Finger 8. Similarly, India will also position its forces at its permanent base at the Dhan Singh Thapa post near Finger 3. Similar action will be taken by both the parties in the south bank area as well.”
The defence minister said under the agreement the Chinese People’s Liberation Army(PLA) will keep its troops in the North bank area to east of Finger 8 and the Indian troops will be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3 in the Pangong lake areas, a major site of friction between the two large armies.
He added that “our approach and continuing talks have resulted in disengagement agreement with China on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake” and that it has been “agreed that within 48 hours of complete disengagement from Pangong Lake, senior commanders level talks should be held and the remaining issues should be resolved”.
Signalling the first major breakthrough in talks to resolve the nine-month military standoff along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, China’s Defence Ministry announced Wednesday that Chinese and Indian troops on the southern and northern shores of Pangong Tso began “synchronized and organized disengagement” in line with the consensus reached between Corps Commanders when they last met on January 24.
The border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5 following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas and both sides gradually 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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