Making a statement on the situation in eastern Ladakh in Rajya Sabha, the minister said India wants a peaceful solution to the boundary issue, but will not shy away from any action required to defend the sovereignty of the country.
Hitting a measured yet aggressive note, in his statement on the India-China border row, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that “no power in the world can stop our soldiers from patrolling.”
In response to a question asked by the former Defence Minister and Congress leader AK Antony on whether Indian soldiers on the conclusion of the diplomatic and military discussions between India and China, will be able to return to their patrolling duties, Singh said that patrolling pattern of Indian soldiers is a traditional exercise and is well defined.
“Our soldiers have laid down their lives just for this,” Singh said referring to the right of Indian soldiers to patrol till the area where they used to before the April standoff. “There will be no change in this pattern I would like to assure the former Defence Minister Ak Antony. More than this, due to operational reasons, I cannot reveal at this moment,” Singh added.
Senior Congress leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and AK Antony had sought clarifications from the Defence Minister on whether the discussions India was having with China via the diplomatic and military channels was meant to restore the status quo ante of April 2020.
In his address to the Upper House, Singh also asserted, “We will not back down from taking any big and tough step in the interest of our country.” Sending across a stern message to Beijing, Singh also added, “it is apparent from Chinese activities that their words don’t match their actions. A case in point is that even when the discussions were going on, the Chinese side again engaged in provocative military manoeuvres on the night of August 29 and 30 in an attempt to change the status quo in the South Bank area of Pangong Lake.”
However, at the end of Singh’s speech, leaders from all the parties present in the house expressed solidarity with the armed forces and the incumbent government, prompting the Defence Minister to say any amount of praise for such a show of unity from India could not be appreciated enough. “This house has assured the country that the challenge may be however big, the country will stand united behind its soldiers,” Singh said.
Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu also expressed solidarity with the force and said that some leaders in India, whom he did not wish to name, were being quoted in foreign media saying things that are being used as fuel in the propaganda against India. “Such statements should not be made. We should remain together and speak with one voice on this issue,” Naidu said.
Singh also mentioned that China’s repeated attempts to carry out provocative military actions in Ladakh while commanders of the armies of both countries were engaged in dialogue reflected “a disregard of our various bilateral agreements.”
“The Chinese side has mobilized a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC as well as in the depth areas. There were several friction areas in Eastern Ladakh including Gogra, Kongka La and North and South Banks of the Pangong Lake. 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,” he added.
Singh had earlier spoken over the issue at the Lok Sabha on Tuesday during the ongoing monsoon session. The Defence Minister had stated that India is ready to deal with any situation regarding the India Defence-China border tension.