Antony asserts no question of India ceding territory to China


September 6, 2013 5:24 pm

[The Hindu]

Mr. Antony assured the members that the government would continue to strengthen India’s capabilities in border areas “to protect our national interest.’’

Amid reports in a section of media which alleged that China has occupied Indian territory in the mountainous Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir, Defence Minister A. K. Antony on Friday asserted that there was no question of India ceding to China any part of Indian territory.

Categorically denying that Shyam Saran, Chairman of the high-level National Security Advisory Board (NSAB), has stated in his report that China has occupied or has denied access to India to any part of Indian territory, Mr. Antony said: “Government keeps a constant watch on all developments having a bearing on India’s security and takes all necessary measures to safeguard it.’’

Reading out his prepared one-page statement in the Lok Sabha, Mr. Antony assured the members that the government would continue to strengthen India’s capabilities in border areas “to protect our national interest.’’

Agitated members in both the Houses of Parliament had raised the issue of incursion by China , Mr. Antony said that NSAB head had visited Ladakh from August 2 to 9 and submitted a report on infrastructure in Ladakh, a copy of which has been sent by the Prime Minister’s Office to the Defence Ministry on September 2.

“The report is primarily focussed on the border infrastructure but also deals with several aspects relating to the region covering a broad spectrum of activities and requirements,’’ Mr. Antony said.

The Defence Minister informed Parliament that the report of the NSAB head “reviews the progress in development of border infrastructure required to ensure connectivity between Ladakh and neighbouring areas.

In the Lok Sabha, angry members of the opposition BJP and UPA ally Samajwadi Party referred to the report of the government committee, claiming that China had occupied 640 sq km of Indian territory in Ladakh sector.

Chaos erupted after Mr. Antony’s statement as irate BJP members were seen protesting while the SP members trooped into the Well, prompting the Speaker Meira Kumar to adjourn the House for an hour.

Mr. Antony said the report of Mr.Saran also dealt with requirement of air facilities in Ladakh region along with matters relating to land acquisition and environmental and wildlife clearances.

The report has also dealt with issues such as availability of modern machinery for construction and maintenance and upgradation of roads, tunneling and alternate alignments, he said.

“Matters such as employment opportunities to local youth, tourism, mobile and internet connectivity, law and order, better equipment and facilities for ITBP, certain grievances of local people, among others have been covered in the report,’’ he said.

Earlier, BJP leader and former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha while demanding a statement on the issue said, “This is a serious matter of national security.’’

Expressing concern over the issue, the Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav branded the government as “coward’’ and “good for nothing.’’

“For the last 14 years, I have been saying inside and outside Parliament that China will attack India. It had betrayed Jawaharlal Nehru and this shock had led to his death. You discuss the issue of border security and we will be satisfied and not raise economic and price rise issues. This government has no right to be in power,’’ Mr. Yadav said.

“I have been defence minister. When the Chinese came one kilometre within our territory, we entered four kilometres into their territory. This government is coward and good for nothing. This government is useless. Are you prepared to tackle China?’’ the SP chief asked.

While agreeing that the issue being raised was a “serious matter, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath rejected the charge that the government was either “weak’’ or “coward.’’