New Delhi: Faced with an onslaught of questions over the government’s handling of the clash with China in Ladakh that peaked this week with the death of 20 Indian soldiers, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju set his targets on the opposition asking for accountability.
“Whenever India faces a military challenge, this man questions the army. Not surprising that he goes to JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University) and sits with those who celebrate the death of our soldiers,” Mr Rijiju said in a tweet in Hindi on Friday, attacking Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress lawmaker has been unrelenting in his attack on the centre over the Ladakh clash, saying that it was “crystal clear” that the government was “fast asleep” and jawans paid the price.
“China has committed a grave crime by killing our unarmed soldiers. I want to ask who sent these bravehearts to danger without weapons and why? Who is responsible?” Mr Gandhi had asked in a short video posted on his Twitter account to which Mr Rijiju responded.
On Thursday, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar had also countered Mr Gandhi, saying soldiers always carry arms but the rules of engagement do not allow use firearms during face-offs.
Indian soldiers were assaulted with iron rods and clubs wrapped in barbed wire laced with nails in the fight with the Chinese in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on Monday, close to the Line of Actual Control. Many were thrown off a steep ridge and some of the soldiers fell into the river Galwan.
The dramatic escalation in hostilities came after weeks of reports of the Chinese ramping up their military presence in the area and intruding into India territory throughout which the government maintained there was no cause for concern.
Speaking out two days after the encounter with Chinese forces, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he wanted to assure the nation that the sacrifice of Indian soldiers would not go in vain and India, while peace-loving, is capable of giving a fitting reply if provoked.