Ladakh standoff: Oppn asks PM if intelligence failure led to Galwan clash

“The Army has been given the freedom to take necessary steps. India has also conveyed its position clearly to China through diplomatic means,” said Narendra Modi
Opposition parties on Friday questioned the government on whether there was an intelligence failure that led to the tense situation in Ladakh with China and urged for the restoration of the status quo ante on the border.

Presidents of various political parties at a virtual meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) asked him to ensure that Chinese troops are "evacuated" from the Galwan valley and all diplomatic channels explored to defuse the tension in eastern Ladakh.

Prime Minister Modi asserted that neither has anyone intruded into Indian territory nor has anyone taken over any post. He said the whole country is hurt and angry at what the Chinese have done.

India wants peace and friendship but its sovereignty is supreme, Modi told the meeting.

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Earlier, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke on the stand-off at the meeting.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked the government whether there was any intelligence failure on the situation along the LAC where 20 army personnel were killed in a violent face-off with Chinese troops and sought an assurance from the prime minister that the status quo ante would be restored at the border and China will revert to its original position.

Gandhi asked specifics about when Chinese troops intruded into the Indian territory in Ladakh and whether the country's external intelligence agencies reported any unusual activity there. She also asked if the government had not received satellite pictures of the border area and the Military Intelligence did not alert it about the intrusion.

"In the government's considered view, was there a failure of intelligence," she asked.

"The question is, what next? What is the way forward? The entire country would like an assurance that the status quo ante would be restored and China will revert to the original position on the Line of Actual Control," she said.

Gandhi alleged that valuable time was lost between May 5 and June 6 and the government failed to use all avenues of talks to ease the situation.

Former prime minister H D Deve Gowda pitched for toning down the "nationalist rhetoric" and cautioned the government against encouraging calls for an economic boycott of Chinese products in the backdrop of the death of 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan valley face-off.

Gowda also urged his colleagues in the opposition not to use "intemperate" language. He said the government should not encourage the "reactionary" language of economic boycott. "Its implications are deep. We should be guided by pragmatism," Gowda said in a statement.

NCP supremo Sharad Pawar told PM Modi that diplomatic channels should be used to defuse the tension in eastern Ladakh but the Chinese troops must be "evacuated" from the high ground in Galwan valley.

Satellite imagery shows massive Chinese buildup along Galwan valley. Photo: Reuters

The former defence minister, in a series of tweets, said he underlined the threat to Dubruk-DBO road due to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) occupying adjoining hills, during the all-party meeting convened by Modi on the stand-off with China.

It would be advisable to "strategise using diplomatic channels to defuse the tension and make China see reason," he said.

West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said her party stands firmly behind the Union government in this hour of crisis and urged the Centre not to allow Chinese investments in strategically important infrastructure sectors, sources said.

Banerjee said India "should and will" unitedly tide over the crisis, sources in her party said.

"During the meeting, our party supremo urged the Union government not to allow Chinese companies and investments in telecom, railway, aviation and other important infrastructure sectors," a TMC source said.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury asked whether the government will form a panel to look into intelligence failures in the face-off involving China, recalling that a similar committee was formed by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to probe lapses during the Kargil war, said a source.

"The government should initiate high-level talks with China, so that steps can be taken, including clear demarcation of the LAC, to maintain peace and tranquility on the border," he said in the meeting, according to the source.

CPI General Secretary D Raja suggested that security and foreign policy should be evolved on the basis of national consensus and the government should take all parties into confidence.

"There should be no compromise on the territorial integrity of the country," he said, adding that the government should ensure a status quo at the LAC to pre-April positions of both armies. He also asked the government to evolve a neighbourhood policy to tackle growing hostility with Nepal and other neighbouring countries.

BJP chief J P Nadda, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, TRS leader K Chandrashekhar Rao, JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar, DMK's M K Stalin, YSR Congress Party's YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray were among those who attended the meeting.

Some opposition parties like the RJD, AAP and AIMIM reacted angrily over not being invited to the all-party meeting. RJD MPs staged a protest at Mahatma Gandhi's statue inside the Parliament complex.

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