Jaishankar was referring to Gandhi’s remarks about the recent skirmish between Indian and Chinese troops on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Yangtse near Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh on December 9, in which several soldiers from both sides were injured
External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Monday criticised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s recent remarks on the border standoff with China, particularly his use of the word “pitai” (being beaten) in the context of Indian soldiers.
“We have no problem if there [are] political differences or if there is even political criticism…but I think we should not, directly or indirectly, criticise our jawans,” Jaishankar said.
“Our jawans are standing in Yangtse at 13,000 feet…defending our borders, they do not deserve to have the word pitai. The word pitai should not be used for our jawans,” the minister said in the Lok Sabha.
Jaishankar was referring to Gandhi’s remarks about the recent skirmish between Indian and Chinese troops on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Yangtse near Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh on December 9, in which several soldiers from both sides were injured.
The Indian side has said the clash occurred when Chinese troops unilaterally attempted to alter the status quo on the LAC.
Referring to the clash at a news conference last week Rahul said, “Hamare jawan seema par pit rahe hain (our soldiers are being beaten at the border).” On Monday, the opposition walked out of the Rajya Sabha after chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar rejected its demand for a debate on the Tawang clash.
Jaishankar made his remarks in the course of replying to a debate on amendments to the Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill of 2019. The bill was cleared by the Lok Sabha on Monday and will now go to the Rajya Sabha.
“Our jawans are standing their ground, they should be respected, they should be honoured, they should be appreciated. This is not something which is appropriate,” Jaishankar said about the remarks made by Gandhi.
Referring to criticism by Congress leaders about his recent foreign visits, Jaishankar noted he travelled to New York last week to chair special meetings of the United Nations (UN) Security Council on reformed multilateralism and counter-terrorism. He said at a time when the world is “looking for Indian leadership”, all sections of India, including politicians, should value this.
“I have heard that my own understanding needs to be deepened. When I see who is giving the advice, I can only bow and respect it,” he said.
Responding to the opposition’s criticism that the government is “indifferent” to the challenge from China at the borders, Jaishankar said, “If we were indifferent to China, who sent the Indian Army to the borders to defend our cause? Why are we today pressing China on disengagement and de-escalation? Why are we saying publicly that our ties are not normal?”
India and China have been locked in a military standoff in Ladakh sector of the LAC since May 2020. A brutal clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020, which killed 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops, has taken bilateral ties between the two nations to an all-time low. Jaishankar has repeatedly said that the overall bilateral relationship cannot be normalised till there is peace and tranquillity on the borders.
The Indian side has accused China of violating agreements and protocols for managing the border by amassing tens of thousands of troops on the LAC and unilaterally attempting to alter the status quo.
Both sides have more than 50,000 troops deployed on the LAC in Ladakh sector and the recent clash in AP’s Tawang sector have heightened concerns about the standoff.