Responding to Congress’ Adhir Chowdhury’s charge that the government was indifferent to the PLA activities on the border, Jaishankar said: “If we were indifferent to China, who sent the Indian Army to the border? If we were indifferent to China, then why are we pressuring China for de-escalation and disengagement today? Why are we saying publicly that our relations are not normal?”
His remarks came in the course of piloting the Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill, 2019. After Chowdhury briefly waded into the border row during the discussion on the bill, Jaishankar used his right to respond and drove home the government viewpoint.
“We should not criticise our jawans… Our soldiers are standing guard at 13,000 feet in Yangtse. They should be respected,” he said. In a jibe at Gandhi for saying ‘he (Jaishankar) must deepen his understanding’ of China’s intentions, the minister said: “We have no problem with political criticism but we should not disrespect jawans. I have heard that my own understanding needs to be deepened. When I see who is giving the advice, I can only bow and respect. The word ‘beaten’ should not be used for soldiers.”
He said amendments to piracy bill was to fulfill India’s obligation as a responsible global power and detailed provisions for punishment. He said amendments introduced provisions of life term, along with death penalty, to make extraditions feasible.
He used data to reject DMK MP T Sumathy’s earlier charge that the Centre was more sensitive in securing release of Gujarat fishermen arrested by neighbouring nations than those from TN. “If fishermen apprehended in Sri Lanka are released today, it is not because someone is writing letters in Chennai but because someone in Delhi is taking up the matter.”
While the bill was being passed, DMK’s TR Balu said the person minister referred to as ‘writing letters’ was CM MK Stalin. The remark shouldn’t be made and withdrawn, he said.