Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of handing over Indian territory to China in a recently-signed pact for disengagement on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso in east Ladakh. "And then the defence minister comes and gives a small statement sheepishly," the Congress leader said.
"The Government had been talking about status quo ante to April 2020 but in this pact, Indian troops have been moved to Finger 3 while Finger 4 was our territory. Why have the troops been moved back...what has India gained... The Prime Minister has handed over our land to China," the Congress leader said. The mountain spurs in the area are referred to as Fingers.
Earlier making a statement in Parliament on Thursday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said China will pull back its troops to the east of Finger 8 areas in the northern bank of Pangong lake while the Indian forces will be based near Finger 3. Similar action will take place at the southern bank of the lake as well, he said.
Gandhi, hitting out at Singh said, "The Defence Minister didn't speak a word on the most important strategic area - Depsang Plains - from where China had entered."
The Congress leader said by ceding land to China, the government had betrayed the sacrifice of the Army. "The PM is a coward who cannot stand up to the Chinese. He is betraying the sacrifice of our Army. Nobody in India should be allowed to do it."
Indian and Chinese troops had been in a tense stand-off in Ladakh ever since 20 Indian soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand combat on June 15 in Galwan Valley. Though China has not disclosed the casualty on their side, Russian news agency TASS said on Thursday that they had lost 45 soldiers. This was one of the most fierce encounters between the two sides that have often clashed along the border.