India

"I Stand With Modiji": Jibe From Shashi Tharoor Over Ladakh's Buffer Zone

"PM must answer his question" Shashi Tharoor had tweeted.

New Delhi:

The mutual withdrawal of Chinese and Indian troops in Ladakh, leaving a buffer zone,  that has helped the Congress and its senior leader Shashi Tharoor to settle an old dispute. The target was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who tweeted a jibe in 2013 at the then UPA government in a similar situation.

"China withdraws its forces but I wonder why Indian forces are withdrawing from Indian territory? Why did we retreat?" PM Modi, who was then the Chief Minister of Gujarat, had tweeted on April 13, 2013.

Yesterday, Mr Tharoor added a tongue-in-cheek response to that tweet: "I stand with Modiji on this. PM must answer his question!"

The Congress too cited the old tweet to hit back at PM Modi.

"Dear Prime Minister, do you remember? Do your words mean anything? Would you like to tell us why our forces are retreating in our territory? The nation seeks answers," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had tweeted.

In April 2013, around 50 Chinese soldiers had crossed the Line of Actual Control and set up a remote camp at Daulat Beg Oldie in Ladakh's Depsang Valley, 19 kilometres into Indian territory. On May 6, both sides agreed to pull forces back to positions held before the confrontation.

It was the leaving of a buffer zone as per rules --- a no-man's land at every border -- that had triggered PM Modi's jibe.

This time, the Chinese and Indian troops started a mutual withdrawal on Sunday after the Special Representative level talks between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi.

The talks took place at the end of a long-drawn face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh, which culminated in a fatal clash on June 15, in which 20 Indian soldiers died in action at Galwan Valley.

China and India have agreed on the need for urgent disengagement and de-escalation at the Line of Control -- the de-facto border between China and India. The troops of both sides have started a 2-km withdrawal at four spots in Ladakh -- Galwan Valley, Hot Springs, Gogra and the Fingers region of Pangong -- leaving a buffer zone as per rules.