The Congress on Monday said India is paying a heavy price for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “clean chit to China” in June 2020 and his government has failed to restore the status quo in eastern Ladakh in the last three years.
In a statement, Congress general secretary (communications) Jairam Ramesh said “access to the strategic sector Depsang Plains has been denied to Indian patrols for more than three years now, with no signs of a return to the status quo”.
The Telegraph on Monday carried a report on the latest Chinese demand for the creation of a 15-20km buffer zone inside India-claimed lines on the strategic Depsang Plains as a precondition for disengagement, refusing India’s offer of a 3-4km demilitarised strip.
Reacting to the story, Ramesh said: “Now we learn that, far from withdrawing, the Chinese are demanding a buffer zone 15-20km further inside Indian territory. This after having already intruded 18km past our rightful border.”
He said the government has already ceded territory at other transgression points — Galwan, Pangong Tso, Gogra Post and Hot Springs — by agreeing to buffer zones inside Indian territory in exchange for a Chinese withdrawal.
“The Modi government must stand firm against China. India cannot lose access to the 1,000sqkm. Depsang Plains that separate Chinese and Pakistani forces and is crucial to any defence of Ladakh,” the Congress general secretary said.
The Chinese are estimated to have taken over close to 1,000sqkm of India-claimed territory in eastern Ladakh since May 2020.
“PM Modi’s public clean chit to China on June 19, 2020, immediately weakened India’s negotiating position and the country is paying a heavy price for it. It is bad enough that the Modi government has failed to restore the status quo in the last three years. To allow it to worsen would be unforgivable,” Ramesh said.
On June 19, 2020, four days after a clash in the Galwan Valley on the India-claimed side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) had killed 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troopers, Modi had said that no one had entered Indian territory or occupied Indian posts. China had seized on the comment to claim ownership of the areas it had occupied within India-claimed lines in eastern Ladakh.
Responding to Jairam’s statement on Twitter, BJP member Subramanian Swamy said: “Jairam Ramesh in this issue of Modi Govt knees knocking before the Chinese, is correct. Truth is sacred whether from friend or opponent.”
In the past, Swamy has attacked the Centre over the Prime Minister’s continued silence on the Chinese intrusion in Ladakh and his remark “na wahan koi ghusa hai, na koi ghus aaya hai, na hi ghusa hua hai...”
Swamy had earlier termed it “hilarious, if not tragic” when the Rajya Sabha secretariat disallowed a question from him on Chinese incursion in Ladakh citing “national interest”.