Sonia Gandhi Grills Govt Over Ladakh Deaths

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‘Was There Intelligence Failure On LAC Situation’

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday asked the government whether there was any intelligence failure on the situation along the LAC where 20 army personnel were killed in a violent face-off with Chinese troops, and sought an assurance from the prime minister that status quo ante would be restored at the border and China will revert to its original position.

In her introductory remarks at an all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Gandhi said even at this stage they were in the dark about many crucial aspects of the crisis as she posed a set of questions to the government.

Gandhi asked specifics about when Chinese troops intruded into the Indian territory in Ladakh and whether the country’s external intelligence agencies did not report any unusual activity there.

She also asked if the government had not received satellite pictures of the border area and the Military Intelligence did not alert it about the intrusion and the build-up of massive forces along the LAC.

“In the government’s considered view, was there a failure of intelligence,” she asked.

“The question is, what next? What is the way forward? The entire country would like an assurance that the status quo ante would be restored and China will revert to the original position on the Line of Actual Control,” she said.

Gandhi alleged that valuable time was lost between May 5 and June 6 and the government failed to use all avenues of talks to ease the situation and the result was the loss of 20 lives as well as injury to dozens of personnel.

“We in the Congress party believe that valuable time was lost between May 5 and June 6, the date on which the Corps Commanders meeting took place,” she said, adding that even after the June 6 meeting, efforts should have been made to talk directly to the leadership of China, both at political and diplomatic levels.

“We failed to use all avenues, and the result is the loss of 20 lives as well as dozens injured. I would urge the Prime Minister to kindly share with us all the facts and the sequence of events beginning April this year till date,” she said.

Gandhi also asked about the current status of the Mountain Strike Corps, with two mountain infantry divisions, that was sanctioned in 2013. “Should the government not treat it with utmost priority,” she asked.

She demanded that the government briefs the opposition on the preparedness of the defence forces to meet any threat.

The Congress chief also said that her party and the entire opposition unitedly stood by the defence forces and were prepared to make any sacrifice to ensure they were battle ready.

The meeting, she said, should have been convened sooner and immediately after the government was informed about the Chinese intrusion on May 5.

The entire nation expects that the government will take all opposition parties and the country into confidence and brief them regularly so that “we may present to the world a picture of unity and solidarity”, she said.

Twenty Indian Army personnel including a colonel were killed in a fierce clash with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on Monday night, the biggest military confrontation in over five decades that has significantly escalated the already volatile border standoff in the region.

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Press Trust of India

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