NEW DELHI: The Congress on Thursday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj of “misleading” the nation over Chinese troops occupying Doklam plateau, saying that India’s security and strategic interests have been compromised.
“The satellite imagery and media reports suggest that China has set up military establishments in Doklam near the Indian border which indicates that India`s security and strategic interests have been compromised,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surhewala told the media here.
“It seems that the government was snoozing while the Chinese troops occupied the Doklam plateau as suggested by satellite images. And it seems China is planning a Doklam 2.0 like retreat near the Indian border.”
In a jibe, the Congress spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister has mastered the art of electoral rhetoric as he has failed miserably to ensure the protection of our borders.” Showing the satellite images, Surjewala said China had constructed a two-storey watchtower, seven helipads and several military establishments in Doklam. “What is the government doing as China has occupied the entire Doklam plateau? Are the government, Prime Minister and Defence Minister aware of these constructions?”
Slamming Sushma Swaraj, Surjewala said the Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement in August, saying the troops of both the countries were doing expeditious disengagement. “Even Sushma Swarajji said (this) in Parliament. And when we asked about the details, she said the troops of both countries were returning to their posts. At that point, there was no reason to question her statement,” he said.
He said after the tensions at Doklam were resolved, the Chinese Foreign Ministry had said that while it had withdrawn the troops, it would keep on patrolling the area. The Congress leader demanded to know how the issue of tri-junction at Doklam would be decided in future when China had occupied the entire plateau.
Surjewala said, “In October, Modiji announced at a public rally the Doklam issue as a victory. However, the satellite imagery released in media reports suggest that Chinese troops have constructed military establishments.” He said ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Modi had made several insinuations at the Congress party and spoken about showing red eyes to China. “Now the number of faceoffs with the Chinese on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) shot up by 48% last year,” he said.
“There were 415 transgressions by Chinese soldiers into the Indian side of the LAC in 2017 as against 271 in 2016. “What does it say about Modi’s empty rhetoric at election rallies?” he questioned.
Surjewala said the Congress party would always press for disengagement of conflict in Doklam between India-China-Bhutan through “diplomatic means” in a manner that protects India`s strategic interests in toto and avoid unwarranted provocation of conflict.
Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a face-off at Doklam for over three months last year. Asked about the number of ceasefire violations and deaths of Indian Army soldiers in the cross-border firings along the border with Pakistan, the Congress leader said, “Even Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat has said that the soldiers are protecting the borders and are dying.
“He (Rawat) also said that the army is doing its job, but also asked when the political intervention will take place to stop infiltration at the international border,” he added.