In a beffiting reply to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, the Ministry of Defence on Friday gave elaborate clarifications on the questions raised by the Wayanad MP over the disengagement process at the LAC. Taking note of "some misinformed and misleading comments" over the disengagement, the Ministry deemed it necessary "to set the record straight and counter certain instances of wrongly understood information being amplified in media and social media."
After Defence Minister Rajnath Singh apprised the Parliament on Thursday over the disengagement process, Congress had cast aspersion on the disengagement process by alleging that 'India is at disadvantage'. Moreover, while addressing a press conference on Friday, Rahul Gandhi made wild allegations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has "ceded Indian territories to the Chinese".
Addressing a press conference, Rahul Gandhi said, "We find that Indian troops are now going to be stationed at Finger 3. Finger 4 is our territory where our post used to be. So now we have moved from finger 4 to finger 3. Why has Prime Minister Modi given our territory to the Chinese? This is a question that needs to be answered by him and the defence minister."
"Why have the Chinese not moved back from Depsang plains and Gogra? Prime Minister has given Indian territory to China. He has bent down in front of China. It is his lookout how he takes it back," Rahul Gandhi added.
Giving an elaborate reply to the doubts raised by Congress, the Defence Ministry said, "The assertion that Indian territory is upto Finger 4 is categorically false. The territory of India is as depicted by the map of India and includes more than 43,000 sq km currently under illegal occupation of China since 1962."
"Even the Line of Actual Control (LAC), as per the Indian perception, is at Finger 8, not at Finger 4. That is why India has persistently maintained the right to patrol upto Finger 8, including in the current understanding with China," the statement added.
"Permanent posts of both sides at the north bank of Pangong Tso are longstanding and well-established. On the Indian side, it is Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3 and on the Chinese side, east of Finger 8. The current agreement provides for cessation of forward deployment by both sides and continued deployment at these permanent posts," the statement appended while adding that India has not conceded any territory as a result of this agreement and on the contrary, it has enforced observance and respect for LAC and prevented any unilateral change in the status quo.
The Ministry reiterated that the pending issues including the Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang will be taken up within 48 hours of the Pangong Tso disengagement.
The Ministry affirmed that "effective safeguarding of our national interest and territory in the Eastern Ladakh sector has taken place because the Government has reposed full faith in the capabilities of the armed forces. Slamming the naysayers for doubting the disengagement protocols, the Ministry stated that those doubting the achievements of the armed forces are actually disrespecting them.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh briefed the Lok Sabha about the agreements between both nations. Asserting that India has not allowed 'anyone to take an inch of land', he said that India will remain at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3 and China at the North Bank area to the east of Finger 8, with similar action agreed to in the South Bank area. He said that there are still some outstanding issues with regard to deployment and patrolling at some other points along the LAC. India and China have also agreed to remove any structures that had been built by both sides since April 2020 in both the North and South Bank areas, restoring the landforms as per the status quo prior to it.
The Indian Army has also released a video of the disengagement process ongoing at LAC on Thursday. Visuals from the region show a formal meeting between the military commanders of both sides, agreeing to disengagement - shaking hands. Moreover, the Chinese Army's three heavy tanks are seen retreating from the area, while one Indian Army tank is also seen retreating from the area. India and China have held nine rounds of military-level talks for de-escalation and disengagement at the LAC after the violent faceoff between the two armies at Galwan, leading to the martyrdom of 20 Indian Army Jawans and over 40 Chinese army soldiers, as per international reports.