iNDICA NEWS BUREAU
India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar Thursday said the troops that fought Chinese soldiers in Galwan Valley in Ladakh had firearms but did not use them as per set protocols for engagement.
At least 20 Indian Army soldiers were killed, India has said, in the worst border skirmish since 1967 between the nuclear-armed Asian giants. Both India and China have accused the other’s soldiers of sparking the violence.
“Let us get the facts straight. All troops on border duty always carry arms, especially when leaving post. Those at Galwan on 15 June did so. Long-standing practice (as per 1996 & 2005 agreements) not to use firearms during faceoffs,” Jaishankar tweeted.
He was responding to a tweet from Rahul Gandhi, leader of India’s main Opposition, the Congress party, who had tweeted: “How dare China kill our UNARMED soldiers? Why were our soldiers sent UNARMED to martyrdom?”
Rahul Gandhi had posted an interview in which a retired lieutenant general, who had been in charge of the Ladakh sector, had said that the troops should have been armed.
“Even if there were clashes, the troops would have defended themselves. Here we have a horrendous situation where the commanding officer of a unit has been clubbed to death. Indian Army has never faced this kind of humiliation ever in its 200-plus years of history. Where unarmed groups have been clobbered in this manner. This is plain and simple murder. The troops would not have gone unarmed without a clear order from the army hierarchy.” HS Panag had said in the interview with The Hindustan Times.
“That means the troops were given specific orders — that you will not take violent action, you will not trigger any incident, we don’t want a hot war. You will remain unarmed so that the situation doesn’t escalate. And before the hierarchy gave this direction, there definitely would have been political clearance. Because militaries do not roam around like this.”