It was an assertive Defence Minister Rajnath Singh who made a statement in the Lok Sabha on the situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and said that India wants peace but is prepared for war.
Talking about his visit to Moscow, Singh said that both he and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had met their Chinese counterparts and “we have clarified that we want to peacefully resolve the issue and would like the Chinese side to work with us, but then there should also be no doubt about our determination to protect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
The Defence Minister also explained to the House about the current situation at the LAC where China is building heavy infrastructure in a volatile situation. Singh also added that the border issue is still not resolved with China as there is a difference of perception on border lines between the two countries. China continues to be in illegal occupation of approximately 38,000 square km in the UT of Ladakh.
Meanwhile, as per top defence sources, the Army is preparing itself for long, arduous winter in Ladakh, which witnesses sub-zero temperatures and is mostly cut off from the rest of the country for months.
The Army has been beefing up its stocks of food, ammunition, fuel and more importantly the winter gear. Major General Arvind Kapoor, Chief of Staff of the Fire and Fury Corps — also known as the XIV Corps which has the mandate of securing the frontiers along the China and Pakistan borders from Kargil to Ladakh — said the unit takes pride in its advance winter stocking. “Our stocking levels, be it rations, fuel, oils and lubricants, tentage and heating appliances which includes bukhari (heaters) or kero-heaters, or be it ammunition, are in good numbers,” PTI quoted Kapoor as saying.
PTI also quoted Brigadier A.S. Rathore as saying, “We hold complete requirements of supplies for all troops which are deployed in the Ladakh sector. All warehouses are completely full to the brim.”
As for the Defence Minister, he also accused China of blatantly violating the bilateral agreements made between the two countries in 1993 and 1996. Rajnath Singh added that aggression by Chinese soldiers was stopped by “our forces from time to time and in the way it was needed”. Singh also added that there are some details and information related to forces and border areas, but as they are sensitive, “I am not placing those facts on record in the House”.
The Congress chose to walk out after Rajnath Singh’s statement and alleged that the government didn’t allow the Opposition to speak on the issue. Talking to the media after staging a protest, leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary, said that he had given notice in the Lok Sabha and they can order discussion under any rule. “Nehru discussed after1962 for two days on China. As the Opposition, we supported the resolution brought by RM (Defence Minister), but I want to question that while speaking, Rajnath Singh praised Mr Modi on tackling the issue, but why was he absent when such a serious matter was being listed in the House.” The Congress attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he has been running away from discussion on China.
With agency inputs