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Rajnath Singh: PLA’s violent conduct completely violates all norms

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NEW DELHI: In a strongly worded statement that repeatedly named China for violating all border agreements with India, defence minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday India was fully prepared to deal with any situation and that the morale of Indian troops deployed at heights of 15,000 feet remained high despite several face-offs with PLA units in eastern Ladakh.

In the Modi government’s first statement on the military tensions along the LAC in Parliament, Singh spoke for close to 25 minutes, saying China had consistently refused to accept customary and traditional boundaries, had previously grabbed 38,000 sq km in Ladakh, claimed 90,000 sq km in

Arunachal Pradesh

and was also ceded land illegally in PoK by

Pakistan

.

He blamed China for attempting to unilaterally alter the status quo and said while India wanted to peacefully resolve the ongoing military confrontation, it was fully prepared to deal with any situation.

Singh said all provisions have been made for Indian troops deployed in the high altitude terrain, indicating India’s preparedness to dig in. He said India had foiled repeated Chinese intrusions, and said he as well as foreign minister S Jaishankar had clearly told their Chinese counterparts in recent meetings that violent actions, including the Galwan clash, were a violation of agreements reached in 1993 and 1996. As India and China’s perception of the LAC overlapped, there were protocols governing how troops should deal with face-offs which China had cast aside.

“As of now, the Chinese side has mobilised a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC as well as in the depth areas,” Singh said, adding India had counter-mobilised as well.

He also spoke of the most recent August 29-30 action, saying a fresh move by Chinese troops to change the status quo on the south bank of

Pangong Tso

had been resolutely countered. The reference was to the Indian Army’s success in taking control of key heights on the south bank that has more than neutralised the advantage the PLA held after it had surprised India by occupying the Finger 4-8 ridgeline.

Singh agreed that the situation was serious when he said the current face-off, in terms of the extent of deployment of rival troops, was fairly unprecedented as compared to previous confrontations. He admitted India was “facing a challenge” in eastern Ladakh this time and did not elaborate on the current ground situation, saying he could not go into “sensitive operational issues”.

“Even though the situation this year is very different, both in terms of scale of troops involved and the number of friction points, we do remain committed to the peaceful resolution of the current situation. At the same time, the House can be assured that we remain prepared to deal with all contingencies,” the defence minister said.

Stressing that no one should doubt India’s determination to safeguard its borders, Singh said the armed forces have made “appropriate counter-deployments” in the friction areas in eastern Ladakh, which included Gogra, Kongka La and the north and south banks of Pangong Tso.

The military confrontation has seen over 50,000 soldiers each from the two armies as well as tanks, howitzers and other weapon systems amassed within firing distance of each other along the frontier in eastern Ladakh for over four months now.

With casualties and shots being fired for the first time in 45 years, India has also reinforced its troop positions all along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) right till Arunachal Pradesh, as was earlier reported by TOI.

The minister said Col Santosh Babu and 19 other soldiers had gallantly laid down their lives after the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “created the violent face-off” in

Galwan Valley

on June 15 in violation of all agreements and understandings. But Indian troops also inflicted heavy costs, including casualties, on the Chinese side, he said.

The PLA once again engaged in “provocative military manoeuvres” in an attempt to change the status quo on the south bank of Pangong Tso on August 29-30. “But yet again, timely and firm actions by our armed forces along the LAC prevented such attempts from succeeding,” he said.

“The conduct of our armed forces throughout these incidents shows that while they maintained ‘sayyam’ (restraint) in the face of provocative actions, they have also equally displayed ‘shaurya’ (valour) when required to protect the territorial integrity of India,” he added.

The minister said China does not accept the “customary and traditional alignment” of the boundary, which is based on well-established geographical principles as well as historical usage and practice well known for centuries to both sides.

But the two countries had agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity along the border by minimal deployment of forces and strictly respecting the LAC, through both the 1993 and 1996 agreements and other protocols, till the complex boundary question was settled in a fair and mutually acceptable manner.

Consequently, China’s recent attempt to unilaterally alter the status quo was simply “unacceptable’, and this had been made clear to the country through both diplomatic and military channels, he said.

“India’s position is that while bilateral relations can continue to develop in parallel with discussions on resolving the boundary question, any serious disturbance in peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the border areas is bound to have implications for the positive direction of our ties,” Singh said.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

Opposition parties request President Kovind not to give assent to contentious farm bills

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NEW DELHI: Opposition parties have requested President Ram Nath Kovind not to give his assent to the contentious farm bills, and conveyed to him that their passage in Rajya Sabha was “unconstitutional”, Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Wednesday.

The government should have consulted all parties, farmer leaders before bringing the farm bills, Azad said after meeting the President.

“The Constitution was undermined …We have given a representation to President that the farm bills have been passed unconstitutionally and he should return these bills,” Azad said.

The Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, have been passed by both Houses and await presidential assent.

There was a ruckus during the passage of two of the three farm bills in Rajya Sabha on Sunday following which eight Opposition MPs were suspended.

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INDIA

10 states, UTs reporting 74 per cent of new Covid-19 cases, 83 per cent of deaths

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NEW DELHI: At least 10 states including Union Territories (UTs) are reporting 74 per cent of newer confirmed Covid-19 cases and 83 per cent of the deaths in the last 24 hours due to coronavirus infection, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

“A total of 83,347 new cases (active cases) have been reported in the last 24 hours in the country. About 74 per cent of the new confirmed cases are concentrated in 10 states/UTs,” the ministry said in a statement.

According to the ministry, in the last 24 hours, Maharashtra has alone contributed to about 18,390 new cases, while Andhra Pradesh has reported at least 7,553 cases. Karnataka has contributed to 6,974 cases, Uttar Pradesh has witnessed 5,650 cases, Tamil Nadu has reported 5,337 cases, Odisha is contributing to 4,189 cases, Kerala has seen 4,125 cases, while Delhi has reported 3,816 cases. West Bengal has witnessed about 3,182 cases and Chhattisgarh has reported 2,736 cases.

“About 1,085 deaths have been registered in the past 24 hours and 10 states/UTs account for 83 per cent of the deaths in the last 24 hours due to Covid. Maharashtra reported 392 deaths followed by Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh with 83 and 77 deaths, respectively. West Bengal has reported 62 fatality, Tamil Nadu has witnessed 76 deaths, Andhra Pradesh has seen 51 mortality, Punjab has reported 66 deaths, Delhi has witnessed 37 fatality followed by Haryana which has registered 29 deaths while 28 people have succumbed in Chhattisgarh due to the virus in the last 24 hours,” the ministry said.

The Union Health Ministry also informed at least 14 states/UTs have demonstrated better Covid-19 response strategy with higher Tests Per Million (TPM) and commensurate lower positivity rate than the national average.

According to the official data, India’s national cumulative positivity rate is 8.52 per cent and the TPM stands at 48,028 on Wednesday.

India’s testing capacity has surged to more than 12 lakh daily tests. More than 6.6 crore total tests have been conducted across the country so far.

“Nearly 14 states/UTs have demonstrated better Covid response with higher Tests Per Million (TPM) and commensurate lower Positivity Rate than the national average. These include– Mizoram, Manipur, Daman and Diu and Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Sikkim, Tripura, Jammu and Kashmir (UT), Odisha, Assam, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Andaman and Nicobar Islands,” the ministry said.

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INDIA

Congress did what it said: Rahul Gandhi on Madhya Pradesh farm loan waiver

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NEW DELHI: The Congress did what it said, while the BJP makes only false promises, Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday, taking a dig at the MP government’s reported statement in the assembly that farmers in 51 districts benefited from the farm loan waiver scheme of the Kamal Nath dispensation.

In a tweet, Rahul Gandhi also shared a media report on the Madhya Pradesh government stating in assembly in reply to a question that farm loans were waived in 51 districts under the previous Kamal Nath dispensation.

“Congress — Did what it said. BJP — Only false promises,” the Congress leader said.

Kamal Nath on Tuesday said the Madhya Pradesh government’s “confession” in the legislative assembly was that 26.95 lakh farmers in 51 districts were benefited from the previous Congress-led dispensation’s farm loan waiver.

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