17:10 GMT05 August 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): India’s main opposition party Congress had questioned the federal government as to how soldiers deployed at Ladakh were unarmed to face the Chinese Army. Twenty Indian soldiers, including an officer, were killed by the Chinese military along a disputed border in eastern Ladakh on Monday night.

    India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar joined the issue with former Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi and said that Indian troops had the arms, but did not use them under protocol provisions.

    “Let us get the facts straight. All troops on border duty always carry arms, especially when leaving post. Those at Galwan on 15 June did so. Long-standing practice (as per 1996 & 2005 agreements) not to use firearms during faceoffs", said Jaishankar.

    ​Rahul Gandhi, who has been posing questions to the government about the face-off with China in Ladakh, asked how Indian soldiers were left unarmed to be at the mercy of Chinese troops.

    ​Earlier in the day Gandhi had accused China of committing the grave offence of killing unarmed Indian soldiers.

    Jaishankar, who had a telephone conversation on Wednesday (17 June) with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, lodged New Delhi’s strong protest on the violent incidents in  theGalwan Valley.

    “....the Chinese side took premeditated and planned action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties. It reflected an intent to change the facts on ground in violation of all our agreements to not change the status quo", the minister told his Chinese counterpart.

    Jaishankar warned Yi that the “unprecedented development will have a serious impact on the bilateral relationship".

    New Delhi had asked Beijing that troops on both sides abide by the bilateral agreements and protocols, noting that they should respect and observe the Line of Actual Control and should not take any “unilateral action to alter it".

    The violent clashes, the worst in several decades between the two countries, occurred even as both sides were in the process of “de-escalation” in the Galwan Valley after a month-long standoff at several points along the de facto border known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC).


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