THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 20 JUNE, 2020
Are We Re-Drawing the Map? 5 Questions Being Asked by Military Veterans
China does not even have a name for Galwan Valley
What just happened, was the astounded response of military veterans after Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared on television yesterday to state, “na wahan koi hamari seema me ghus aaya hai aur na hi koi ghusa hua hai, na hi hamari koi post kisi dusre ke kabje me hai”. (neither has anyone intruded our territory there, nor is there any intruder there, nor is any of our posts in anyone else’s possession).
The shock turned into anger with the social media and messages from the senior veterans asking only one question”: “if there is no intrusion then have we conceded Galwan valley to the Chinese.”
As if on cue China responded. The Chinese embassy in New Delhi posted its foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s statement that “the Galwan Valley is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in the west section of the China-India boundary. For many years, the Chinese border troops have been patrolling and on duty in this region”. Before this India had claimed Galwan Valley not just on maps but through physical possession. It has been held by India without any dispute since 1962. It has been named after the 19th century Ladakhi traveller Gulam Rasool Galwan and for which there is no Chinese name.
China made it very clear that it was not going to move back after the brutal attack in which 20 soldiers were killed, several held hostage and at least 70 injured. New Delhi maintained complete silence during the initial days with China using its mouthpiece Global Times, however, for a constant commentary on the situation. The Chinese top military commander was categorical in a statement in the public domain that Galwan valley was “our” territory. New Delhi on the other hand fell silence, with not a word about the incident and escalating rumours that several Indian soldiers had been held hostage by the Chinese. The government broke this deafening silence only to confirm later that 10 hostages had been released by China. It is still not clear whether there are more.
Even the opposition members were not given basic information about the clash, when it occurred, what exactly happened, how many hostages were taken, and apart from the 20 killed how many have been injured. And the most important question being asked by all the military veterans through articles and the social media : why were our men not armed?
This has now been followed by a volley of questions by stunned veterans after the Prime Minister's remarks on television after the Opposition meeting where he insisted that there had been no intrusion. The anger is palpable with any number of tweets questioning the Prime Minister. Colonel Ajai Shukla who writes extensively asked on Twitter: Did I see prime minister @narendramodi redrawing the Sino-Indian border on TV today? Modi said nobody entered Indian territory. Has he conceded to China the Galwan River valley and Fingers 4-8 in Pangong Tso -- both on our side of the LAC -- and where Chinese troops now sit.
And like others asked what was the fuss about then, if no one entered Indian territory then why has there been this scrambling to open negotiations, and above all why did 20 soldiers die in the clash, and that too so brutally. Retired Lt General Prakash Menon said publicly what many of the veterans had been stating on group chats, “ Modi has capitulated and said that kuch hua hi nahi (nothing has happened in terms of territorial loss)! OMG. Is there a case for his trial for treason because he just reiterated China’s stand? What is the legal/ constitutional position. Help!”
Meanwhile China is sitting pretty in the Galwan Valley, maintaining that this is their land, has always been and in that sense confirming and taking forward PM Modi’s “no one intruded into our space” explanation. His words are exactly what the PLA has been claiming, that the Galwan Valley was never with India and always with China.
Global Times has moved into directing Indian “nationalists” to stop calling for the boycott of Chinese goods. After an article “Rising Indian nationalism will harm business ties” China’s mouthpiece has followed up with an editorial stating, “In fact, India's radical forces have been calling for a boycott of Chinese products every year, but China-India trade has been expanding. India is importing more and more goods from China, leading to India's tens of billions of trade deficit with China each year. This is because many Chinese products cannot be produced in India, and India cannot buy these products from the West at the same price. For example, many Indians who blame China are using Chinese mobile phones. Chinese lamps, ceramics and suitcases are the most suitable for Indian consumers. With low prices and good quality, these products are difficult to replace.
China's GDP is about five times that of India's. With such a gap, how could it be easy for a smaller economy to sanction a large one? India cannot replicate the US' overbearing approach to China. India will suffer more losses if it launches a trade war against China, and the Indian people's livelihood, which has been supported by Chinese products, will bear the brunt.”
Interestingly the editorial also claims that “India was unjustified in the border despite” And that its soldiers violated the India =China Galwan Valley consensus and “blatantly crossed the Line of Actual Control and destroyed the tents of the Chinese troops. And this according to it led to the “encounter and India suffered many casualties.” PM Modi has not gone so far as to spell out these details but made it clear that no one had intruded into Indian territory, leaving the space open for China to legitimise its claims. Both in rhetoric and on the ground.
The five questions being asked all over the social media not just by citizens but the Indian Army veterans now are:
1. Has the PM accepted China’s claim over the Galwan Valley?
2. Is the PM consciously re-drawing the map?
3. Are we now whitewashing our soldiers sacrifice?
4. Are we consciously parroting the Chinese position?
5. Are we scared of China?
Cover Photograph was shared over all over the social media claiming to show Indian troops with the banner asking the Chinese to go back on May 26. It has not been independently verified by The Citizen.
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