BENGALURU: As India and China continue to work on complete disengagement of troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) after a deadly clash in the Galwan Valley, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, who helmed the 1996 accord between the two countries, is sceptical of normalcy in relations being restored in the coming days.
"Now, things have gone beyond repair," Gowda told The New Indian Express. "Sitting here (in Bengaluru), I do not know the ground realities today, but it has become a mess," Gowda said, expressing his displeasure over the developments.
Accusing China of committing a heinous act by attacking Indian soldiers, Gowda said there are several questions regarding various decisions and what actually led to the clash in Galwan Valley. "Why did our soldiers go empty-handed, and who took that decision? They should have first sent a small team to gather intelligence. It is one of the major issues," Gowda said.
The 1996 accord between the two countries on exercising self-restraint and taking steps to avoid escalation in the situation was signed when Gowda was PM.
The Centre had earlier clarified that the soldiers were not empty-handed, but had exercised restraint in the spirit of the agreement. Chinese troops violated the agreement when they attacked Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley. Earlier, on June 19, Gowda had suggested that it is important to institute an inquiry to establish what exactly led to the tragic events in Galwan Valley.
1996 accord helped India, China: HD Deve Gowda
HD Deve Gowda had cautioned the opposition leaders against using intemperate language and equating domestic politics and national security interests. Now, looking at a number of factors, including mobilisation of forces on both sides, Chinese investments in that region, China-Pakistan relations, and the support India gets from different countries, it is difficult to say how things will pan out in future, Gowda said.
He felt that the escalation of tensions on the borders started after abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
"The agreement was made on the basis of decisions taken in 1993. The 1996 accord helped both sides and there was no conflict on the border till 2017," the former PM said adding that during the Doklam stand off in 2017, the then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj took everyone into confidence by explaining the situation on the ground with the help of maps and seeking suggestions from them.
The standoff was resolved diplomatically. Asked about his suggestions on handling the current situation, Gowda said he will give it when asked (by the government) or when he gets to speak about it in Parliament. The Janata Dal-Secular president was recently elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha.