New Delhi, September 17: Opposition leaders in the Rajya Sabha asked the government on Thursday to restore status quo ante as on April this year on the India-China border.
Cutting across party lines, members in the Upper House of Parliament expressed their solidarity and support to the armed forces, which are facing a standoff situation against the Chinese army in eastern Ladakh.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anad Sharma and former defence minister A K Antony of the Congress asked the government to take efforts to restore the status quo ante of April and resolve the over-three-month-old border standoff.
Some members such as Prasanna Acharya of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena cautioned the government while entering into any agreement with China over the present situation.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made a statement in the Rajya Sabha after the government and opposition agreed that there will be no discussion on the sensitive issue.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, however, allowed the members to seek a few clarifications on the statement, which was almost identical to the one Singh made in the Lok Sabha on September 15.
Sharma said the country is proud of its Army and the sacrifices made by the soldiers to protect the border.
“There should be no doubt on this and the entire nation would stand together,” he said.
Referring to the recent talks between the Indian defence minister and foreign minister with their Chinese counterparts and a statement on September 11, Sharma asked: “Do we understand that the restoration of the status quo ante will remain a non-negotiable and final objective for India?”
Antony sought a clarification over Singh’s statement in the Upper House.
“You have to clarify that sovereignty means status quo ante as on the middle of April. That is the meaning of sovereignty,” he said.
Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh was never a disputed site, the former defence minister said.
“Even at Galwan Valley, our soldiers are now not allowed to patrol at the point at which they used to patrol earlier. In the Pangong area, in a more than eight-kilometre area they are not allowing us to patrol, the area which we used to patrol. Previously, we used to patrol till Finger 8 and now we are not being allowed to patrol till Finger 8,” he added.
The Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) should be allowed to patrol at the point where they used to patrol earlier, the Congress leader said.
Azad said he stands with the armed forces and salute their valour.
Being a citizen of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, Azad said the people from there are ready to sacrifice themselves to defend the territory and integrity of the nation.
“On behalf of my party, I would say at least on this China issue, we stand with the government. There should be no compromise. They should go back to the position where they were in April,” the Congress leader said.
RCP Singh of the Janata Dal (United) said China is an “ungrateful’ country that always follows a “policy of aggression”. He suggested that the government should negotiate with the neighbouring country from a position of strength.
Tiruchi Siva and P Wilson of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) expressed their solidarity with the armed forces.
Raut said patience and valour are the traditions of India, but not of China.
The neighbouring country has a “tradition of betrayal and we should always be careful with them,” the Shiv Sena leader said.
BP Baishya of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) said the people of the northeast are with the armed forces and salute their sacrifice.
Ravi Prakash Verma of the Samajwadi Party (SP), K Keshava Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Binoy Viswam of the Communist Party of India (CPI), Elamaram Kareem of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Sanjay Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Veer Singh of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also participated in the debate and expressed their solidarity with the armed forces. (PTI)