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PM says Army given freedom to take necessary steps, India's position conveyed clearly to China
New Delhi, June 19, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today made it clear that no one was inside Indian territory and nor had any of its posts been captured and 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.
Addressing an all-party meeting called by him to discuss the situation in Eastern Ladakh, where 20 Indian Army men, including an officer, were killed by the Chinese People's Liberation Army troops on Monday night, Modi said the brave soldiers had made the supreme sacrifice for the nation but had also taught a lesson to those who had dared to look at India.
"The nation will forever remember their valour and sacrifice," he told the leaders of various political parties who participated in the meeting, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee.
Modi said the nation stood united with the soldiers defending the country's borders and reposed full faith in their courage and bravery. He said that, through the all-party meeting, he wanted to assure the families of the martyrs that the entire country stood with them.
He said the entire country was hurt and angry at the steps taken by China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). He assured the leaders that the Armed Forces were leaving no stone unturned to protect the country.
"Be it deployment, action or counter action, through land, sea or air, our forces are taking the necessary steps to protect the country. The country today has such capability that no one can even dare look towards an inch of our land. Today, Indian forces are capable of moving together across sectors," he said.
The Prime Minister underscored that India wants peace and friendship, but upholding sovereignty is foremost. He highlighted that the government has given primacy to development of border area infrastructure to make the borders more secure. Provision has also been made for fighter planes, modern helicopters, missile defence systems and other such needs of the forces.
Through the recently developed infrastructure, patrolling capacity at LAC has also increased, he said, adding that through this, India is better informed about the developments at LAC and consequently is able to monitor and respond better.
"The movement of those which used to take place without any disruption earlier is now checked by our jawans, which at times leads to build up of tension," he said.
He noted that through better infrastructure, supply of material and essentials to jawans in the difficult terrain has become comparatively easier.
Modi emphasized the commitment of the government to the welfare of the nation and its citizens and said that, be it in trade, connectivity or counter-terrorism, the government has always stood up to outside pressure. He assured that all steps necessary for national security and construction of necessary infrastructure, would continue to be taken at a fast pace. He reassured the leaders about the capability of the armed forces to defend our borders and that they have been given a free hand to take all necessary steps.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the nation will never forget the sacrifice of the martyrs. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar gave an overview of agreements between India and China on border management, informed the meeting about the directions given by the Prime Minister in 2014 to give highest priority to development of infrastructure in border areas in the regions identified and approved by the Cabinet in 1999, and also shared details of recent developments.
An official press release said the leaders of the political parties hailed the bravery displayed by the armed forces in Ladakh. They reposed faith in the leadership of the Prime Minister in this hour of need and expressed commitment to stand united with the government. They also shared their thoughts and ideas on dealing with the situation.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi said, in her view, the meeting should have been held earlier and immediately after the government had been reportedly informed about the Chinese intrusion on May 5 into several places in Ladakh and elsewhere.
"As always, the entire nation would have stood together like a rock and fully supported the government of the day in the steps required to defend the territorial integrity of the country. Alas, that was not to be.
"In fact, even at this late stage, we are still in the dark about many crucial aspects of the crisis. We have some specific questions, for the Government: On which date did the Chinese troops intrude into our territory in Ladakh? When did the government find out about the Chinese transgressions into our territory? Was it on May 5th, as reported, or earlier? Does the government not receive, on a regular basis, satellite pictures of the borders of our country? Did our external intelligence agencies not report any unusual activity along the LAC? Did the Military Intelligence not alert the government about the intrusion and the build-up of massive forces along the LAC, whether on the Chinese side or on the Indian side? In the government’s considered view, was there a failure of intelligence?
"We in the Congress Party believe that valuable time was lost between May 5 and June 6, the date on which the Corps Commanders meeting took place. Even after the June 6 meeting, efforts should have been made to talk directly, at the political and diplomatic levels, to the leadership of China. We failed to use all avenues, and the result is the loss of 20 lives as well as dozens injured," she said.
Gandhi urged the Prime Minister to share with the leaders of the political parties all the facts and the sequence of events beginning April this year till date.
"The question is, what next? What is the way forward? The entire country would like an assurance that status quo ante would be restored and China will revert back to the original position on Line of Actual Control.
"We would also like to be briefed on the preparedness of our defence forces to meet any threat. In particular, I would like to ask what is the current status of the Mountain Strike Corps, with two mountain infantry divisions, that was sanctioned in 2013? Should the Government not treat it with utmost priority?
"We in the Indian National Congress and the entire opposition unitedly stand by our defence forces and are prepared to make any sacrifice to ensure they are battle ready. The entire nation expects that Government will take all Opposition parties and the country into confidence and brief us regularly so that we may present to the world a picture of unity and solidarity," she added.
Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Bannerjee said that her party stood strongly in solidarity with the government.
Bihar Chief Minister and JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar said that there should be no difference amongst the leaders and parties should not allow any disunity which can be exploited by other nations.
LJP leader Chirag Paswan said that the country feels safe under the leadership of the Prime Minister.
Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena supremeo Uddhav Thackeray lauded the Prime Minister and said that the entire country is one and with the Prime Minister.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar stressed that issues of whether soldiers carried arms or not are decided by international agreements and the parties need to respect sensitivities involved in such matters.
Meghalaya Chief Minister and National People's Party leader Conrad Sangma said that the Prime Minister has been working on infrastructure in the Northeast and that must go on.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati said that this is not the time for politics and she firmly stands with the Prime Minister on whatever decisions he takes.
DMK leader M K Stalin welcomed the recent statement by the Prime Minister on the issue.