New Delhi, September 17

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said “no power in the world” could stop the Indian armed forces from reaching the traditional patrolling points on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that are currently blocked by China.

Members across party lines responded to the call for unity in the face of a difficult situation on the border, made by Singh and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu.

But former defence minister AK Antony and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad wanted to know whether the government would be able to restore the status quo of mid-April on the border and if the Army could reach the patrolling points in Galwan Valley and Pangong Tso that had been reportedly blocked by the Chinese PLA.

Singh avoided touching on sensitive operational details while taking up Naidu’s suggestion to informally brief political leaders separately on the issue.

On the demand whether India is striving for the restoration of status quo, Singh said the issue had been completely clarified in his statement.

Earlier, Singh delivered a rousing address praising the valour and courage of the armed forces and appealed for the complete backing of the House in their “eyeball-to-eyeball” confrontation with the Chinese troops.

Singh began his speech by stressing that there was no absence of coordination in intelligence gathering and dissemination. He also drew attention to the difference in prolonged standoffs that had taken place earlier. This time, the number of Chinese troops and friction points on the border are very different. “Yet we are committed to peace,” he said.

Singh went over much of the ground he had covered in the Lok Sabha earlier this week. But Rajya Sabha’s tradition of allowing members to seek post-statement clarifications, saw members from centrist parties like AAP and BSP besides BJP’s allies simply reposing their faith in the government and praising the valour and fortitude of the armed forces.

While Left Party members were inaudible or cut short, it was Antony, Azad and Anand Sharma who put questions on restoring the status quo of mid-April and access for the Army to the blocked patrolling points.

During his statement, the Defence Minister also laid emphasis on resolving the complex issue through talks. At the same time, he said while border talks and development of bilateral ties could take place on parallel tracks, disturbance of peace and tranquillity on the LAC would affect the latter.

Singh said that initially both sides were committed to reaching a common understanding on the LAC but China dropped the subject after 2003. As a result, there is an overlap of perception about the LAC at several points, he said.

While the armed forces would show restraint wherever required and display valour if the need be, Singh said the Indian Army had been able to inflict casualties on the Chinese PLA. The three key principles being observed by India in the current stand-off are to respect the LAC, no attempt to change the status quo and respect all agreements and understandings.

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