A day after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh admitted to several attempts by the Chinese Army ‘‘to transgress the LAC in parts of the Western Sector” and alter the status quo, the Union home ministry tried to downplay the matter by insisting that there had been no infiltration along the Indo-China border in the last six months.
"No infiltration has been reported along the Indo-China border during the last six months," Union Minister of State for Home Nityanad Rai said in a written response to a question.
Rai did not state what he meant by ‘infiltration’ and Home ministry officials clarified later that the term is used for a terrorist crossing the Line of Control, which is not the same as ‘transgression’ or ‘incursion’.
Sources said that may explain why Rajnath’s remark that China has mobilised a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC as well as in the “depth areas” does not qualify as ‘infiltration.’
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, had in May categorically stated at an all-party meeting that “neither is anyone inside our territory, nor has any of our post been captured,” a remark on which the PMO had to elaborate later.
There have been other ways in which the government has unwittingly added to the confusion. In August, a document on the ministry of defence website had admitted to Chinese intrusion on the Indian side but was removed after two days.
The Congress attacked the government for its statement that there has been no infiltration and said it was an insult to the brave soldiers who were killed on the night of June 15 in Galwan. Rahul Gandhi, who is with his mother in the US, tweeted: "Aap chronology samajhiye (Please understand the chronology)" and claimed that days before PM Modi said China had not crossed into Indian territory, the government "took a huge loan from a China-based bank".
The tweet was intended to be a swipe at Home Minister Amit Shah, who had used the same phrase last year about the controversial CAA and NRC programmes.
"Aap chronology samajhiye (Please understand the chronology). PM said no one entered the border... Then took a huge loan from China-based bank... Then defence minister said China had encroached ... Now Minister of State for Home says no encroachment," Gandhi tweeted.
According to news agency Reuters, the government took out a $750 million loan from the Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in June. The money was intended to help India battle the coronavirus pandemic.