Terming as “horrendous” and “barbaric” the brutality with which 20 Indian soldiers were killed by Chinese troops in Ladakh, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday demanded accountability for the loss of lives in the violent border clash.
He said the whole nation was expecting a befitting response from the government to this horrific attack on its men.
“Our soldiers at the front should be clearly told that if they kill one of ours, you kill three of theirs,” said an emotional Amarinder, making it clear that he was not speaking as a politician but as a man who had been part of the Indian Army and still loved the institution.
He pointed out that his stand on such issues has always been the same, and even after the Pulwama attack, he had declared that “if they kill one of ours we should kill two of theirs”.
Questioning why no orders to fire at the Chinese were given in the face of the brutal attack on the Indian soldiers, the Chief Minister said, “Somebody failed to do his job out there, and we need to find out who that was”.
“If the unit was armed, as is being claimed now, the second-in-command should have ordered firing the moment the commanding officer fell to the Chinese treachery,” said Amarinder, adding “the nation wants to know why our men did not retaliate in the way they are trained to do, and why they did not open fire if they were carrying arms”.
“What were they doing sitting out there while their colleagues were getting killed?” he asked.
“I want to know, every soldier wants to know, and every Indian wants to know what happened,” said the Chief Minister, making it clear that he feels very strongly about this entire incident, which also exposed a “gross intelligence failure”.
“Those boys sitting out there on the mountains deserve answers and expect a hard-hitting response,” he added, reacting strongly to what he described as an insult to every Indian.
“What happened out there was not a joke, and the message has to go out strongly to China that India was no longer prepared to take their deceit,” said Amarinder, adding every one of the 20 soldiers who had been martyred in the violence was “my man and I feel strongly about it”.
Calling for an end to the “Hindi-Cheeni bhai bhai charade”, the Chief Minister said India should not chicken out on this issue.
“If China is a world power, then so are we,” he declared, adding “60 years of diplomacy has not worked and it is time to tell them that enough is enough”.
“China knows we are capable of taking them on,” said the Chief Minister, pointing out that the Indian Army is a highly professional force, fully capable of taking on any enemy.
“The Chinese just cannot be trusted,” he remarked, pointing out several Indian territories are in their occupation since 1962 and they were clearly now trying to take more.
Amarinder also took strong exception to reports of riot gear being sent out to the soldiers at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Stressing that the Indian Army is trained to handle arms and stones or nail studded rods and ‘lathis’, he said, “If the government of India wants a fistfight or ‘lathi’ fights with the Chinese, then it should send RSS cadres to the battleground.”
“What our men out there need is weapons and clear orders that they should be ready to use these weapons to save themselves and defend the country at any cost,” he said.