NEW DELHI – The Union Ministry of Defence (MoD) earlier this week put out a note on its official website in which it referred to the Chinese aggression as “transgression” for the first time. The document admitted that Chinese forces had intruded into the Indian Territory in May.
“The Chinese side transgressed in the areas of Kugrang Nala (near Patrolling Point-15, north of Hot Springs), Gogra (PP-17A) and north bank of Pangong Tso on May 17-18,” a document uploaded on the defence ministry’s website on Tuesday said.
Strangely, on Thursday, the ministry removed the documents from the official website. The unprecedented move has caused a massive political controversy with opposition Congress Party repeating its charge that the government was hiding facts.
Party leader Rahul Gandhi, who had earlier quoted the documents on the website and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of lying, once again took to social media to question the ministry’s decision to remove the documents from the public domain. Gandhi claimed that Modi did not have the courage to even ‘name’ Chinese.
Describing the Chinese aggression in Ladakh as “transgression”, India had in the document said the standoff was likely to be “prolonged” as China had demanded that India moved back in Pangong Lake.
“Forget standing up to China, India’s PM lacks the courage even to name them. Denying China is in our territory and removing documents from websites won’t change the facts,” Rahul Gandhi said.
Forget standing up to China, India’s PM lacks the courage even to name them.
Denying China is in our territory and removing documents from websites won’t change the facts.https://t.co/oQuxn77FRs
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 6, 2020
Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken also targeted Modi at a press conference. He questioned if the defence ministry was trying to save Modi by withdrawing the document.
“Modi had said that no one has come into our side of the border, no one has taken our land and no one has taken our post. MoD has detailed major activities in the month of June on its website, but now it has been removed. Is the MoD trying to save the PM?” Maken said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, in a television interview in end-May, had said a sizeable number of Chinese soldiers had “come a little further than they used to earlier”. But it was officially clarified that it should not be “misinterpreted as if Chinese troops entered the Indian side of the LAC”.
Quoting the defence ministry document, Maken said Chinese forces had transgressed at different locations on May 17-18 and a violent clash took place on June 15. But, he said, the PM denied this on June 19.
“Is the MoD document true or what PM said was correct? And, why has this document removed?” the Congress leader asked, directing the queries at the Central government.
Maken said the Chinese were holding ground while Indian forces had been asked to pull back.
“Chinese PLA has constructions in Depsang valley and DBO. Our soldiers have been asked to remove positions from Finger 4, while PLA continues to patrol between Fingers 4 and 8.”
The Congress leader claimed that five Corps Commander-level meetings had failed to resolve the standoff. “We want the government to tell us its roadmap. How long will this continue? What is our preparation for the upcoming winter?” Maken said, adding that the government must tell people of India about its strategy to deal with the situation.
He also raised a demand for a Parliament session. “We would like the government to convene the Parliament session to discuss the Chinese standoff, alongside coronavirus and the economic slowdown,” he said.
-With inputs from agencies