Rajat Sharma

If the Chinese do not retreat to their old positions on LAC, India must act

AKB0410Ever since the treacherous attack by Chinese troops on Indian army took place in Galwan valley on Monday night, there have been many rumours circulating on social media, and it is shocking that some of our national level leaders also believe some of these rumours to be true.

On Thursday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “How dare China kill our UNARMED soldiers? Why were our soldiers sent UNARMED to martyrdom?” External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar tweeted in reply: “Let us get the facts straight. All troops on border duty always carry arms, especially when leaving post. Those at Galwan on 15 June did so. Long standing practice (as per 1996 and 2005 agreements) not to use firearms during faceoffs.”

Rumours were circulated in social media that 35 to 40 jawans are missing and probably taken captive by Chinese army. The Indian army replied: “It is clarified no Indian troops are missing in action. All are accounted for.”

A picture of a rusted iron rod studded with nails was posted by some journalists on social media claiming these were used by Chinese troops on our jawans. The army clarified that no such weapons have been recovered from the Chinese.

On the casualty figures, the army late on Thursday night clarified, only 20 army personnel martyred, and nobody is presently critical in hospital. There are 18 soldiers presently in Leh army hospital, who will be rejoining duty within 15 days. 58 injured soldiers are in other base hospitals and will be returning to duty within a week. A total of 96 army jawans and officers came under impact during the Chinese attack. On one hand, our army is fully transparent, and on the other, the Chinese government is yet to admit that 43 of its soldiers died in the clash and a large number of other troops have been injured.

There are too many lies circulating on social media and Indians need to remain on guard. One rumour said, our jawans at the LAC did not have body suits and snow boots to withstand cold weather in Ladakh, and these were airlifted from Mumbai. There were rumours about how the Chinese troops intruded 20 kilometres (some said 60 km) into Indian territory and occupied our area.

All such rumours are baseless. The ground reality is that our armed forces – Army, Navy and Air Force – are presently in a state of operational readiness to guard our airspace and land and sea frontiers against any misadventure. The Chinese already know that they would be getting a ‘befitting reply’ for their aggression.

The government is now pro-active both on the diplomatic as well as strategic fronts. On one hand, talks are being held with China, and on the ground, our armed forces have increased their surveillance. Army and Air Force radars have been activated on the frontiers, fighter jets and helicopters are keeping watch on the Line of Actual Control, and naval warships are being deployed at strategic locations. Non-stop aerial surveillance is on all across the LAC from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, combat helicopters are carrying out recce missions, and all movements of Chinese army are being taken note of.

On Thursday, there were talks with the Chinese at the Major General level with Maj. Gen. Abhijit Bapta of Trushul division leading. The talks were positive, but inconclusive. Maj. Gen. Bapta was assisted by Brigadier, Operations and Colonel, Operation along with a Chinese interpreter. India has lodged its strong protest over the Chinese attack. The Indian side has clearly told the PLA to move back to its original positions as existed in April, and only then the situation would ease. The talks will continue.

I spoke to several senior army officers who have worked near the LAC and asked about Rahul Gandhi’s charge that our jawans were sent unarmed to embrace martyrdom. They pointed out that whenever our jawans go on patrolling on LAC, they never go without weapons, but there is a long-standing agreement between India and China, that no shots shall be fired on the LAC. I am surprised why Rahul Gandhi failed to understand this. He may now ask why our soldiers did not go with nail-studded clubs and stones, if they cannot fire a shot. Well, there have been casualties on both sides. If our 20 jawans were martyred, the Chinese lost 43 troops. How did our brave soldiers did this? Of course, they’re trained to retaliate.
I am also surprised over the remarks of Capt Amarinder Singh, the Punjab chief minister. He questioned, “why no orders to fire at the Chinese were given to our jawans” in the face of a brutal attack. Capt Amarinder Singh says,” if the unit was armed, as is being claimed now, the second-in-command should have ordered firing, the moment the Commanding Officer fell to Chinese treachery.” The Captain is a mature leader, he has been in the army, but he gave his reactions on basis of what he saw on tv channels,without checking out facts with the army.
In times of crisis like this, we should project a united face before the world. The entire nation, the government, and all political parties stand united behind our army, and this is not the right time to level accusations. The entire nation must stand rock solid behind the leadership of our Prime Minister. He is our supreme leader, elected by countrymen. The Prime Minister has already said, that the sacrifice of martyrs will not go in vain. So, let us stay united in this hour of crisis.
The nation is confident that our armed forces are strong, preparations are afoot to face one of the world’s super powers. India does not want war, we want peace. The whole world now knows the real intentions of the Chinese army, known for its treachery. If China does not follow the path of persuasion, and refuses to return to its original positions that existed in April in Ladakh, we should teach the Chinese in a language that they understand better.

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