As the Monsoon session of the parliament resumed with strict social distancing protocols, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh took the opportunity to inform the nation of the ongoing border stand-off between India and China. It seems that the gloves are off and any hopes of a reconciliation all but over as Rajnath Singh didn’t mince his words as he severely battered China on the floor of the house.
In a stern message to China, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made it clear that while India is committed to peace, but is ready for combat, if the situation arises.
Informing the Lok Sabha about the situation at the border, Rajnath Singh said, “We made it clear to the Chinese side both through diplomatic and military channels that China was, by such actions, attempting to unilaterally alter the status quo. It was categorically conveyed that this was unacceptable.”
Rajnath Singh particularly known for his clam attitude and measured remarks, was in a combative mood as he addressed the Lok Sabha. Singh also informed about the friction points at the Eastern LAC. “There are several friction areas in Eastern Ladakh including Gogra, Kongka La and North and South Banks of the Pangong Lake,” said the Defence Minister.
He added, “As of now, the Chinese side has mobilised a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC as well as in the depth areas. In response to China’s actions, our armed forces have also made appropriate counter deployments in these areas to ensure that India’s security interests are fully protected.”
Rajnath Singh didn’t care to remain diplomatically correct as he directly blamed China for the situation at the border on the floor of the house. He said, “The Chinese actions reflect a disregard of our various bilateral agreements. The amassing of the troops by China goes against the 1993 and 1996 Agreements. Respecting and strictly observing the Line of Actual Control is the basis for peace and tranquility in the border areas and explicitly recognized in both 1993 and 1996 agreements.”
Rajnath Singh further stated that the 1993 and 1996 agreements – he first formal pacts between India and China to ensure peace, has note been followed by China. He said, “While our armed forces abide scrupulously by it, this has not been reciprocated by the Chinese side. Their actions have led to face-offs and frictions from time to time along the LAC.”
The 1993 agreement was made with the aim of keeping the LAC a friction-free zone. The agreement says, “Neither side shall use or threaten to use force against the other by any means. Pending an ultimate solution to the boundary question between the two countries, the two sides shall strictly respect and observe the line of actual control between the two sides. No activities of either side shall overstep the line of actual control.”
It is clear the China violated the 1993 agreement and the fact that Rajnath Singh brought it up in the parliament holds significance. He also stated that the PLA “created the violent face-off” at the Galwan Valley on June 15.
In his over 20 minutes long speech, Rajnath Singh made it a point to mention how China had previously grabbed 38,000 sq km in Ladakh, claimed 90,000 sq km in Arunachal Pradesh and now also occupies a part of PoK ceded illegally by Pakistan.
He said, “As this House is aware, China is in unauthorized occupation of about 38,000 square km of land in Ladakh. Also, under a so-called Boundary-Agreement in 1963, Pakistan illegally handed over 5180 square km of Indian land of PoK to China. China’s action shows its disregard towards our various bilateral agreements. The deployment of large amounts of troops by China is a violation of the 1993 and 1996 agreement.”
It seems that the gloves are off and unless China agrees to behave and restore the status-quo, the situation at the border is unlikely to ease.