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Timid response won't do; PM must defend nation: Rahul on Pangong Tso issue

The Congress on Friday continued its attack on the government over reports of China building a second bridge over Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh

Rahul Gandhi, Rahul,

Rahul Gandhi

Press Trust of India New Delhi
The Congress on Friday continued its attack on the government over reports of China building a second bridge over Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh, with Rahul Gandhi saying India's national security and territorial integrity are non-negotiable and the prime minister must defend the nation.
China is constructing the second bridge in an area held by it around the strategically key Pangong Tso lake and it could help the Chinese military to quickly mobilise its troops in the region, according to satellite imagery and people familiar with the development.
The bridge is being built amid the lingering standoff between Indian and Chinese armies at several friction points in eastern Ladakh for over two years.
"China builds first bridge on Pangong. GOI: We are monitoring the situation. China builds second bridge on Pangong. GOI: We are monitoring the situation," Gandhi said on Twitter.
"India's national security and territorial integrity is non-negotiable. A timid and docile response won't do. PM must defend the nation," he added.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge hit out at the government alleging that China is building two bridges across the Pangong Tso to move its troops faster and the government is not doing anything about it.
"The only reaction from 'Beijing Janata Party' Government is 'we are monitoring the situation', which actually means that Government is being a mute spectator while our national security is being threatened," he said on Twitter.
Expressing concern, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera questioned the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on it and asked him to openly talk about the Chinese "occupation" and forget about his "fake image".
He alleged that the government is desperate to protect the "fake image" of the prime minister at the cost of territorial integrity of the country.
Khera said the Ministry of External Affairs should clarify whether China has "occupied" Indian territory.
"It is a very serious issue of concern for each one of us and we would call upon the prime minister to forget about his own image, think about the country, think about the brave army, which braving all odds of weather and of the enemy is valiantly protecting our borders," he told reporters.
"We want an immediate clarification from the government of India on the words used by the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday that it is felt that the area is under Chinese occupation," he also said.
Senior party leader P Chidambaram said the MEA's "refined statement" that the new bridge under construction on the Pangong lake is in "occupied territory" raises two simple questions: whose territory and who has occupied it.
Khera said the most important role in diplomacy is the use of language and our External Affairs Ministry is using very soft words to say that "it is felt" that China is occupying Indian territory in Ladakh.
He said the fact is that China has occupied our territory for years and "we are very concerned over the issue".
"Under what pressure is the prime minister," he asked, noting that he is not naming out China for occupying our territory.
The Congress leader said China has established infrastructure support for the PLA to enable it to bring artillery support through these bridges and this particular bridge, which is under construction, is a broader bridge as compared to the first bridge.
People familiar with the Chinese construction on Wednesday had said that the new bridge is being built in an area that is over 20 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Khera also alleged that by not speaking out against China, "We are demoralising our own armed forces and it is shocking to see that the Ministry of External Affairs is undermining the Defence Ministry".
He said China is violating the ceasefire agreement under which India gave up the vantage points that we had under our position and we got that vantage point under our position due to our brave army.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had termed the remarks of the external affairs ministry as "meek and cowering" and "blatant compromise with our national security".
After reports emerged about China building the bridge, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said the area where the reported construction is being undertaken is under the occupation of that country for decades.
The Congress and Gandhi have been attacking the Narendra Modi government over its response to China on continued transgressions along the border in Eastern Ladakh.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: May 20 2022 | 7:55 PM IST

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