Stunned by reports of Chinese aggression; for over a month, defence experts, veterans and the opposition have been asking the BJP government for transparency on what is happening in Ladakh. The government implied that all is well and that no territory has been lost. However, this was not true. The confirmation of 20 of our soldiers, including a colonel, being martyred, the reality of the situation has shaken India. The government has very reluctantly called for an all-party meeting on the 19th of June— while one fails to understand why such an urgent matter is not priority for the government.
Even as several experts have been cautioning the government, the BJP took matters lightly and brushed realities under the carpet. Living in denial, the BJP felt that the Chinese would be charmed by Prime Minister Modi’s visits and that tensions would be broken without having to seek expert opinion.
On June 4, Gen (retd) HS Panag in an article for Scroll wrote, “China cannot be allowed to get away with usurping Indian territories like it has done till now. This confrontation must end with status quo ante 1 April, 2020 and sanctification of the LAC with formal exchange of maps. Some journalists and activists are also busy peddling their interpretation of the alignment of the LAC to prove that no territory has been seized by China. A perception is being built for diplomatic acquiescence. What else does China want? We are playing into its hands. For the apologists of the “differing perceptions” who have theories to deny loss of territory, it is pertinent to point out that there are no differing perceptions about the LAC along the Galwan River. The intrusion here is deliberate to threaten the Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DS-DBO) Road… f it cannot be done diplomatically, then it must be done by force. However, rather than evolving a clear strategy and broadly sharing it with the nation, the Narendra Modi government and the military have gone into ‘denial’ about any loss of territory, attributing the present situation to differing perceptions about the LAC.”
However, the ruling government chose to ignore the voice of their own experts. The attitude of the BJP government has put the nation’s security in peril. Last year, the BJP government shelved the plan to raise the Mountain Strike Corps (MSC). The MSC was cleared to be raised by the cabinet committee on security in 2013 by the UPA government. It was to comprise of 90,000 troops and was christened to be the 17th MSC or the Brahmastra Corps. It was created keeping Chinese aggression in mind. Each year 8,000 crores were to be spent on it and it was to be completed by 2019-2020. However, the BJP government refused to fund the project in 2017 and shelved it last year saying that it was becoming unwieldy.
May be if the BJP government prioritized national security, we would not have had to deal with the Chinese aggression and not have lost so many of our soldiers in such a brutal and un-soldierly attack. The intrusions are in areas that have not been disputed earlier. Defence experts and veterans believe that the Chinese have now secured approximately 40-60 square km of Indian territory. As a result, they will be at an advantage during negotiations with India. The Chinese aggression is clear that they have come well prepared for a skirmish.
The Prime Minister should have taken the opposition into confidence and announced a clear strategy to respond to the latest act of Chinese belligerence. However, the BJP is living in denial. Any one who attempts to draw attention to potential dangers is either ignored or mocked. While the Congress demanded that the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister tell the nation what was happening at our borders, they merely mocked the opposition taking juvenile jibes at Congress leaders.
Meanwhile, large sections of the media continue to remain silent or even shield the government rather than seeking answers. We must rise above partisan politics and seek answers from the government. The Modi government must be more transparent and display courage. We cannot allow China to take away Indian territories. This confrontation must end and our territories must be taken back from the Chinese.