Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday hit out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over the latter's remarks targeting the central government regarding the India-China border row at the Galwan Valley in Ladakh. The minister refuted claims of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) entering Indian territory as "baseless" and said that the situation was under control.
In an interview with the India Today news organisation, Rajnath Singh personally cleared the air on the Centre's stance regarding the LAC standoff with China.
"What happened from 1962 to 2013, I don't want to say anything about it. Our forces showed great courage at LAC. It is baseless that PLA has entered our territory. After the Galwan clash, I met the soldiers. Our prime minister also met the soldiers. All I can say that no one would ever try to enter our territory," Rajnath Singh was quoted as saying in the interview.
The minister further said that diplomatic efforts are underway with China, and that Indian officials are trying their best to resolve the situation. He did not comment much on the details of the commander-level talks, owing to the classified nature of such meetings.
Rajnath Singh also slammed Islamabad for its claims on Gilgit-Baltistan, which the Imran Khan-led Pakistan government had declared as its "provisional fifth province" on Sunday.
Pakistan and terror groups are "rattled after the abrogation of Article 370", Rajnath Singh insisted, adding that no change in the status of Gilgit-Baltistan and PoK both belong to India and that "no change in their status is acceptable".
According to the report, the Defence Minister also targetted the Pakistani leadership over a federal minister's "acceptance" of the country's role in the 2019 Pulwama attack in Jammu and Kashmir, wherein 40 CRPF personnel were killed last year when a suicide bomber rammed his car into a bus carrying the jawans..
"Pakistani minister in its assembly accepted the country's role in Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed. Pakistan was scared of India's response if they don't release fighter pilot Abhinandan Vathaman," the report quoted the Defence Minister.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had, earlier on Saturday as well, slammed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for the "misleading" claim that China had intruded "1200 kilometres" into India's territory and lavished praise on armed forces for the valour displayed by them in defending the countrys honour.
"Some opposition parties are misleading the people. The leader of the Congress is saying that intrusion has been made into 1200 kms of our territory and the land has been captured," he had said.
At a press conference in Punjab earlier this week, the former Congress president had accused the Modi government of having "given away 1200 kms of Bharat Mata to China".
Despite several earlier media reports and government officials claiming that China had entered the Indian territory in the Galwan River valley at three different places: Hot Springs, Patrol Point 14, and Patrol Point 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had confidently said that China did not intrude into India's border.
More specifically, Modi's words had directly contradicted the official statement made by India's Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar a day ago, who said that China had "unilaterally tried to change the status quo" and that the violence was "premeditated and planned".
Amid such a backdrop, the war over words on the Galwan border row takes new meaning in an India fraught with jingoistic debates and empty rhetoric, now more than ever.
(With agency inputs)