Regular-article-logo Monday, 05 June 2023

Congress to Modi: At least tell us the truth now

PC: Which govt head is mute after intrusion?

TT Bureau New Delhi Published 17.06.20, 01:57 AM
P. Chidambaram

P. Chidambaram (PTI Photo)

Which head of government stays silent for seven weeks after foreign troops have intruded into the country, senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram asked on Tuesday evening, as the wait for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak up on China continued.

A full day passed after at least 20 Indian soldiers, including a colonel, were killed by the Chinese, and not a single minister in the Modi government had uttered a word on Tuesday.


“We have seen the official statement issued by the ministry of external affairs that says nothing new after the news broke out at 12.52pm today thanks to an Army WhatsApp group,” Chidambaram said, posting a series of tweets at 8.47pm.

“The PM has maintained a worrying silence since May 5. Can you imagine any other Head of Government not saying a word for 7 weeks since the intrusion of foreign troops into a country?” he asked.

“Admittedly, Indian lives have been lost. Who are the brave men who have made the supreme sacrifice?”

The army did not deny reports doing the rounds on social media that several soldiers were missing and might have been taken captive.

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China’s Global Times newspaper, said in a tweet: “Chinese side didn’t release number of PLA casualties in clash with Indian soldiers. My understanding is the Chinese side doesn’t want people of the two countries to compare the casualties number so to avoid stoking public mood. This is goodwill from Beijing.”

For more than a month now, the government has maintained that all is well on the border in Ladakh. After a stony silence for weeks, defence minister Rajnath Singh did say that the Chinese had come in but appeared to put it down to differences in perception on territory.

The official statement from India’s external ministry on Tuesday night confirmed Chinese intrusion and that the People’s Liberation Army had violated the Line of Actual Control in the Galwan Valley, which has been uncontested Indian territory since 1962.

The Congress expressed deep anguish and shock at the death of Indian soldiers and asked the Prime Minister and the defence minister to share with the nation the truth about the standoff with China.

Party leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “Words cannot describe the pain I feel for the officers and men who sacrificed their lives for our country. My condolences to all their loved ones. We stand with you in this difficult time.”

The Congress Working Committee is likely to meet soon to discuss the issue.

Pointing out that the casualties reported in the clashes with Chinese troops were the first in five decades, Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala said: “To the distress and dismay of the entire nation, the Prime Minister and the defence minister remain absolutely ‘mum’. Will the Prime Minister tell the nation as to how the government proposes to meet this challenging situation which has serious ramifications for India’s national security and territorial integrity?”

Asserting that the Congress remains firm that the entire country stands as one to protect India’s national security and territorial integrity at all costs, Surjewala said: “Let the Modi government remember that in our parliamentary democracy, ‘secrecy or silence’ is unacceptable on the part of the government.”

He asked: “Is it true that the Chinese have killed an officer and soldiers of the Indian Army in the Galwan Valley? Is it true that Indian soldiers have also been critically injured? If so, why are the Prime Minister and defence minister maintaining absolute silence?

“The reported statement of the Indian Army suggests that an Indian Army officer and soldiers were killed last night as ‘the de-escalation process’ was underway in the Galwan Valley. Will the defence minister take the nation into confidence as to how could our officer and soldiers be killed as the Chinese were reportedly withdrawing from our territory in the Galwan Valley?”

The Congress leader added: “How and under what circumstances were our officer and soldiers martyred? If our officer and soldiers had been killed yesterday night, why was the statement issued today at 12.52pm and why was the statement changed after 16 minutes at 1.08pm?”

The Congress has been repeatedly asking the government to take the nation into confidence on the actual border situation.

Surjewala asked: “Will the Prime Minister and the defence minister now come forward to tell the nation as to how much of our territory has been illegally occupied by the Chinese, post April/May, 2020, and what are the circumstances that have led to the killing of our brave officer and soldiers by the Chinese, instead of the Chinese being forced to retreat to their original position on Line of Actual Control?”

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