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New Delhi, June 22, 2020
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the Prime Minister must always be mindful of the implications of his words and declarations on the nation's security as also strategic and territorial interests.
In a statement here, the Congress leader also reminded the Government that disinformation is no substitute for diplomacy or decisive leadership.
"The truth cannot be suppressed by having pliant allies spout comforting but false statements," he said.
Singh's statement came in the backdrop of the violent faceoff between Indian and Chiense troops in the Galwan Valley of eastern Ladakh on the night of June 15, in which 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives, as well as the remarks made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an all-party meeting convened by him on June 19.
Modi told that meeting that no one was inside Indian territory and nor had any of its posts been captured. He also declared that, while the Army had been given the freedom to take the necessary steps, India's position had also been conveyed clearly to China through diplomatic means.
Modi's remarks about there being no one inside Indian territory and that none of its posts had been captured led to some controversy, with the opposition Congress asking what had then led to the clash in Galwan Valley on Monday night.
On the following day, the Government issued another statement, saying that Modi's observations at the meeting, that there was no Chinese presence on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), pertained to the situation as a consequence of the bravery of the Indian armed forces and regretted that attempts were being made in some quarters to give a mischievous interpretation to his remarks.
But China latched on to Modi's remarks and once again claimed that the Galwan valley in Ladakh is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
In an official statement, China's foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian has said the Galwan valley is located on the Chinese side of the LAC in the west section of the China-India boundary.
"For many years, the Chinese border troops have been patrolling and on duty in this region," Zhao said, alleging that since April this year, the Indian border troops have unilaterally and continuously built roads, bridges and other facilities at the LAC in the Galwan Valley.
Against this backdrop, Singh pointed out that the 20 Indian soldiers had laid down their lives in the ultimate act of sacrifice, valour and duty to the country.
"Our bravehearts defended the motherland till their last breath and for that we owe them, and their families, our eternal gratitude. However, their sacrifice cannot be allowed to be in vain.
"At this moment, we stand at historic cross-roads. Our Government’s decisions and actions will have serious bearings on how the future generations perceive us. Those who lead us bear the weight of a solemn duty. And in our democracy that responsibility rests with the office of the Prime Minister," he said.
Singh said China was brazenly and illegally seeking to claim parts of Indian territory such as the Galwan Valley and the Pangong Tso Lake by committing multiple incursions between April 2020 till date.
"We cannot and will not be cowed down by threats and intimidation nor permit a compromise with our territorial integrity. The Prime Minister cannot allow them to use his words as a vindication of their position and must ensure that all organs of the Government work together to tackle this crisis and prevent it from escalating further.
"This is a moment where we must stand together as a nation and be united in our response to this brazen threat.
"We call upon the Prime Minister and the Government to rise to the occasion, to ensure justice for Col. B. Santosh Babu and our jawans who have made the ultimate sacrifice and resolutely defended our territorial integrity. To do any less would be a historic betrayal of the people’s faith," the former Prime Minister added.