Denying all reports of Chinese intrusion and capture of Indian territory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday night said Chinese forces have neither stepped into India’s borders nor captured any Indian post. He was speaking at a virtual all-party meeting convened to discuss border tensions with China after 20 Indian Army personnel, including a Colonel, were killed by Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on the night of June 15.
Modi said even though the soldiers attained martyrdom, they “taught a lesson to those who dared raise their eyes at mother India”.
Nobody dare set their eyes on even one inch of Indian soil, he added.
“Whether it is deployment, action or counteraction, on land, sea or air, our forces are doing whatever is required to protect the country. We have the capability to ensure that nobody can set their eyes on one inch of Indian soil... today Indian forces have the capability to move all at once in different sectors as required,” said Modi.
Modi said in the past few days, the government had to protect its integrity, giving a huge boost to border infrastructure development. “To augment the strength, we have given priority to procurement of fighter jets, advanced helicopters and missile defence technology. Because of the new infrastructure at the border, our patrolling on the border has also increased, because of which our vigilance has improved and the range of intel about activities on the border has also expanded,” he added.
Modi said all these efforts had helped the forces get over the blind spots and had increased the overall monitoring capabilities of the country. Hinting at the Chinese forces, he said those who were never questioned regarding their movements are now stopped at every step. Modi reiterated the message he had delivered in his last address two days ago – that India wants peace and friendship but not at the cost of its integrity and sovereignty. He said Indian forces had been given a free hand to deal with all eventualities at the border.
Leaders of all parties present at the meeting expressed their commitment to stand united with the government and repose their faith in the leadership of the prime minister.
At the meeting, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi questioned the government on the details about the intrusion by Chinese forces, failure of intelligence and the current status of the proposed ‘Mountain Strike Corps’.
“On which date did the Chinese troops intrude into our territory in Ladakh? When did the government find out about the Chinese transgressions into our territory? Was it on May 5th, as reported, or earlier?" Gandhi asked. "Does the government not receive, on a regular basis, satellite pictures of the borders of our country? Did our external intelligence agencies not report any unusual activity along the LAC? Did the Military Intelligence not alert the government about the intrusion and the build-up of massive forces along the LAC, whether on the Chinese side or on the Indian side? In the government’s considered view, was there a failure of intelligence?”
Gandhi added that the “nation needs assurance that status quo ante is restored. What is the current status of Mountain Strike corps? Opposition parties should be briefed regularly”.
Sources said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged Modi to do everything possible to defeat China, urging everyone to “speak with unity, think with unity and work with unity”.
"The all-party meeting is a good message for the nation. It shows we are united behind our jawans," said Banerjee. "The TMC is strongly in solidarity with the government… Don’t let China enter telecom, railway and aviation sectors. We will face some problems but we won’t allow the Chinese to enter."
JD(U) president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also called for political unity, highlighting the “nationwide anger against China” and the need to ban Chinese products.
“There is nationwide anger against China. There should be no differences among us. We are together," he said. "Parties should not show any disunity that can be exploited by other nations. China’s stand on India is known. India wanted to give respect to China. But what did China do in 1962.”
Kumar said that goods from China flooding Indian markets have major problems -- they are plastic-heavy, not eco-friendly and harm the environment. "The electronic waste associated with them is high. It's our duty to be one and support the Centre," he added.
CPI's D Raja urged Modi to “resist US efforts to drag us into their alliance”, while CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury stressed on the principles of the Panchsheel agreement.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar said the question of whether soldiers carried arms or not is decided by international agreements and “we need to respect such sensitive matters”.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao suggested to Modi to pursue long- and short-term strategies to deal with China, adding no hasty decisions should be taken and interests need not be compromised.
"We should prepare long-term and short-term strategies to face China's aggressive attitude. There should not be any hasty act from our side under any circumstances," an official press release quoted Rao as saying. "There should not be any compromise as far as our nation's security and interests are concerned. Have strategic partnership with countries friendly with us."
YSR Congress Chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy said his party will fully support whatever strategy Modi adopts to resolve the border issue. "I stand by you in these testing times..I would like
to convey wholehearted support of the 6 crore people of my state. All of us are behind you. Passing these testing times, whatever strategy you put forth in place, we will firmly stand by you," he said.
Sikkim Krantikari Morcha president and Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang said, "In the past too, when it comes to national security, PM has taken landmark decisions."
NPP's Conrad Sangma said that infrastructure work along the border should not stop. "China-sponsored activities in Myanmar and Bangladesh is worrying. PM has been working on North East infrastructure and it must go on," he added.
Others who attended the meeting included BJP president JP Nadda, BSP chief Mayawati, Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray, DMK's MK Stalin, among others.
A political controversy had erupted ahead of the meeting with the RJD and AIMIM crying foul over not being invited. The parties weren’t called for the meeting reportedly based on their negligible presence in Parliament.
AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh had also lashed out at the government and the BJP over the apparent snub, but party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal brushed it aside. “We stand with the country and our security forces. Strict action should be taken against China,” he said.