regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Congress slams Modi government over 1962 war memorial demolition in Ladakh due to Chinese pressure

The party referred to the demolition of the memorial to Major Shaitan Singh and 113 other soldiers who had sacrificed their lives for the country in the Battle of Rezang La during the 1962 war with China

Sanjay K. Jha New Delhi Published 31.12.23, 06:52 AM
Mallikarjun Kharge.

Mallikarjun Kharge. File picture

The Congress on Saturday flagged the government’s "surrender" to China and the rising poverty, citing particularly how India had been forced to demolish a memorial to a 1962 war hero under a partial disengagement agreement with the Chinese.

On a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Ayodhya and projected the January 22 inauguration of the Ram temple as a national triumph, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge spoke of the "pain" of the government's "surrender before China’s evil intent" and accused it of "insulting the sacrifice of our martyrs".


Rahul Gandhi highlighted how the focus was on setting up "selfie points" at railway platforms instead of mitigating the struggles of the poor.

The Congress did not mention Ayodhya. Instead, it referred to the demolition of the memorial to Major Shaitan Singh and 113 other soldiers who had sacrificed their lives for the country in the Battle of Rezang La during the 1962 war with China.

India demolished the memorial in 2021 — this had to be done because it stood in an area that had been newly demarcated as a buffer zone — but it came to light only a few days ago.

"The red eyes you promised to show to the Chinese are closed but you are insulting the sacrifice of our martyrs," Kharge wrote on the social media platform X.

"The news of the demolition of (the memorial to) Major Shaitan Singh, Param Vir Chakra awardee and the hero of Rezang La clash in Chusul, Ladakh against China in 1962 is truly distressing. Reports suggest this was done because the spot came in the buffer zone decided during the disengagement process with the Chinese authorities."

Kharge added: "Major Shaitan Singh’s sacrifice along with 113 soldiers is the country’s pride. The BJP has again produced the certificate of its fake patriotism by demolishing his memorial."

A bigger memorial has now been built in Chusul but the place where Shaitan Singh fell has been lost. His and his troops’ valour inspired the Bollywood film Haqeeqat.

“Why has India not succeeded in restoring status quo ante in Depsang Plain, Pangong Tso Lake, Demchok and Gogra Hotspring despite 20 meetings between Modi and Xi Jinping? Isn’t it true that Modi gave a clean chit to China after the killing of our 20 soldiers in the Galwan Valley?” Kharge posted.

The reference was to Modi saying on June 19, 2020 – four days after a clash in the Galwan Valley had killed 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops – that no one had entered or was occupying Indian territory.

The Prime Minister has maintained a deafening silence on the Chinese transgressions in Ladakh, at best vaguely criticising “expansionist” policies without naming any country.

Some senior ministers too have claimed that not even an inch of India’s territory has been captured by anyone, while a series of military talks have yielded “partial disengagements” and “buffer zones” – seen by many veterans as India “conceding further territory to the Chinese”.

Now comes news of the demolition of the memorial.

“Rajasthan’s Marwar and the entire country felt hurt hearing about the demolition of the memorial as Major Shaitan Singh belonged to my native district of Jodhpur,” former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot of the Congress said.

“The government should have issued a formal statement before conceding this.”

Rahul posted a photograph showing people sleeping on the floor in front of a selfie point at one railway platform.

Along with it, he posted this message: “Fares of every class in the Indian Railways, the poor’s preferred mode of travel, have been increased, concession for senior citizens was abolished, platform ticket was made costlier and doors were opened to privatisation.

“Was the money extracted from people’s hard-earned incomes meant for raising selfie points? What do Indian people want? Cheap gas cylinder and a safe train journey, or a selfie with the photograph of the emperor?”

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra flagged the high prices of petrol and diesel at a time crude oil prices have crashed 29 per cent in international markets over the last 19 months.

“Oil companies have earned a profit of Rs 1.32 lakh crore,” she said, while the people grapple with the burden of high prices. “The government’s priority is to fill the pockets of a few billionaires.”

The Congress posted several messages and videos alleging Modi had failed to fulfill his promises to farmers, the youth and others. All this appeared a concerted response to the Ayodhya frenzy that the party believes has been designed to hijack the political discourse.

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