NEW DELHI: In his first remarks on the Ladakh face-off, former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said PM Narendra Modi must be mindful of the implications of his words and cannot allow China to use them as a vindication of its position.
Noting that disinformation is no substitute for diplomacy or decisive leadership, Singh called upon the prime minister to ensure justice for soldiers who died defending India's territorial integrity.
"To do any less would be a historic betrayal of people's faith," he said in a statement.
The Congress has been attacking the government on Prime Minister Modi's remarks at an all-party meeting that no one has entered Indian territory or captured any military post while referring to the eastern Ladakh standoff.
The government has, however, said that attempts are being made to give a "mischievous interpretation" to the prime minister's remarks.
Singh said this is a moment where we must stand together as a nation and be united in our response to this brazen threat.
Twenty Indian soldiers, including a colonel, were killed in the violent face-off with Chinese troops on the night of June 15/16 in eastern Ladakh's Galwan Valley.
Noting that the country is standing at the historic cross-roads, Singh said the government's decisions and actions will have serious bearings on how the future generations perceive us.
"Those who lead us bear the weight of a solemn duty. And in our democracy that responsibility rests with the office of the prime minister," he said.
"The prime minister must always be mindful of the implications of his words and declarations on our nation's security as also strategic and territorial interests," he said.
The Congress veteran said China is "brazenly and illegally" seeking to claim parts of Indian territory such as the Galwan Valley and the Pangong Tso Lake by committing multiple incursions from April 2020 till date.
"We cannot and will not be cowed down by threats and intimidation nor permit a compromise with our territorial integrity.
"The Prime Minister cannot allow them to use his words as a vindication of their position and must ensure that all organs of the Government work together to tackle this crisis and prevent it from escalating further," he said.
"We remind the Government that disinformation is no substitute for diplomacy or decisive leadership. The truth cannot be suppressed by having pliant allies spout comforting but false statements," he said.
Singh also said that the sacrifice of soldiers cannot be allowed to go in vain.
(With inputs from PTI)