Remember 1962: Sharad Pawar’s brutal snub to Rahul Gandhi over Chinese intrusion
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar said on Saturday matters of national security should not be politicised and one must remember what happened after the 1962 war when large tracts of land were occupied by the Chinese.
Pawar’s comments came in response to a question about Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s charge that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had surrendered Indian territory to the Chinese aggression.
The Congress party, led by its former president Rahul Gandhi, has been taking jibes at the Centre since the June 15 violent face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.
It wants PM Modi to clarify whether China has intruded into India in Ladakh.
The NCP president said the first time something like this happened was after the 1962 war when the neighbouring country had laid claim on large swathes of Indian land.
“We can’t forget what had happened in 1962 when China occupied 45,000 square kilometres of India’s territory. While making these allegations, one should also look at what had happened in the past. This is an issue of national interest and once should not bring in politics here,” the former defence minister said while speaking to reporters in Satara.
Pawar’s NCP is an ally of the Congress and they are part of Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government led by the Shiv Sena.
The senior politician was referring to the disputed Aksai Chin area, which is controlled by Beijing but claimed by New Delhi.
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488km Line of Actual Control (LAC). While China claims Arunachal Pradesh as Southern Tibet, India asserts that the dispute covered Aksai Chin area which was occupied by China during the 1962 war.
The NCP chief also said the Centre cannot be blamed for the standoff at Galwan Valley.
“Our soldiers tried to push back Chinese army men when they tried to encroach upon Indian soil. To say this is the failure of anyone or of the defence minister isn’t correct. Had our army not been on alert, we wouldn’t have known Chinese assertion,” he said.
“The scuffle itself means that we were vigilant else we would have been caught unaware. Hence, I don’t think such allegations are fair to make,” he added.
Pawar also cited the agreement between India and China when two nations decided not to use guns at the LAC.
Twenty Indian soldiers of 16 Bihar Regiment, including its commanding officer, were killed following a clash with Chinese troops at Galwan Valley on June 15.