Surrender to China: Antony on disengagement in areas of eastern Ladakh
Senior Congress leader AK Antony said on Sunday accused the Centre of not giving priority to national security at a time when the country is facing a two-front war from Pakistan and China. Antony, a former defence minister, also said the increase in the allocation to the defence sector is meagre and a “betrayal of the country” even as India is facing multiple challenges at borders.
"For the first time, India is facing two front war-like situation- one from Pakistan and now China becoming more belligerent by building infrastructure and military mobilisation across India-China border mainly from eastern Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. The Narendra Modi government is not giving proper priority to national security,” Antony said during a press briefing.
Also watch: Ex-defence minister slams troops disengagement in Ladakh
The Congress leader’s comments come days after defence minister Rajnath Singh announced the disengagement agreement on the north and west bank of Pangong Lake in Ladakh with China. "The agreement that we have been able to reach with the Chinese side for disengagement in the Pangong lake area envisages that both sides will cease their forward deployments in a phased, coordinated and verified manner. The Chinese side will keep its troop presence in the North Bank area to the east of Finger 8. Reciprocally, the Indian troops will be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3," the defence minister had said in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
Antony said that this disengagement at Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso and buffer zone creation is a surrender and added that the government must support our armed forces at a time when India is facing two-front war-like situation at borders. "The entire India-China border needs 24 hours attention. Our armed forces are ready, but they need the support of the nation and the government. Chinese are modernising the army, building the infrastructure and consolidating their positions. We also need matching support to the armed forces,” he said.
The former defence minister said that disengagement was good as it reduced tension but it should not be done at the cost of national security. “Both disengagements in Galwan and Pangong Tso are a surrender. We are surrendering our rights," he alleged, adding that it amounted to surrendering of areas traditionally controlled by India and added that Galwan Valley was never a disputed land even in 1962.
Antony also slammed the Union Budget, under which finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman envisaged an outlay of ₹30,42,230 crore, out of which ₹3,37,553 crore was allocated for the defence, excluding pension. "When India is facing a war-like situation, when Chinese are everywhere at the border, everyone expected a substantial increase in the defence budget. Our armed forces demanded an increase both in the capital and revenue expenditure. The government is showing so much bravado, but practically, there is a 1.48 per cent increase, compared to the revised budget last year,” he pointed out.
The Congress leader also warned that China can “play mischief” anytime by helping Pakistan in the Siachen area. “We want to know from this government when there will be status quo ante as on mid-April 2020 in the entire India-China border," he said.
Antony also said that the government must take the country and the people into confidence on the restoration of status quo ante at the borders. He said the government always consulted leaders of all political parties before taking such a decision and must keep national security in mind.