‘All border troops carry arms’: Jaishankar responds to Rahul Gandhi on Ladakh standoff
All troops on border duty always carry arms, underlined external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Thursday while countering Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter query as to why Indian soldiers were sent in unarmed during the violent face-off with China in the eastern Ladakh region.
“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 & 2005 agreements) not to use firearms during faceoffs,” tweeted the minister just hours after Rahul Gandhi raised the question.
The deadly clash between the two armies began on Monday at around 7 pm in the Galwan valley when an Indian Army squad of about 50 soldiers, led by Colonel Santosh Babu, reached a contested site near what is known as Patrol Point 14, people familiar with the developments said on Wednesday. Twenty Indian soldiers died in the line of duty in clash with the Chinese troops.
The soldiers were locked in hand-to-hand combat that triggered a seven-hour violent face-off involving reinforcements from both sides.
The soldiers exchanged blows, threw stones at each other, and the Chinese troops attacked Indian soldiers with iron rods and nail-studded clubs, as reported by HT on Wednesday. Some soldiers, from both sides, fell into the water and their bodies were later retrieved on Tuesday morning.
The Chinese soldiers were supposed to have withdrawn from the location under a de-escalation plan discussed by senior commanders from both sides on June 6.
On Wednesday, Jaishankar, in a phone call with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, conveyed India’s protest in “strongest terms” to Beijing over the violent face off and said that China had attempted to erect a structure on the Indian side of the LAC.
New Delhi also said that the Chinese side took “premeditated and planned” action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties.
A statement by the external affairs ministry following the conversation said that India had conveyed to China that the Galwan Valley development will have a “serious” impact on the bilateral relationship. It also added that the need of the hour was for the Chinese side to reassess its actions and take “corrective” steps.
A strongly worded statement released by the Chinese foreign ministry – after the phone conversation - said New Delhi “should strictly control frontline troops”.