Govt briefs Oppn on Indo-China standoff, Kashmir; Cong says ‘nation comes first’


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Govt briefs Oppn on Indo-China standoff, Kashmir; Cong says ‘nation comes first’

Emerging from the meeting, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma told reporters that their party has raised some doubts before the government but made it clear that "nation is first -- be it China or Kashmir".

The issue with China and growing unrest in Kashmir will be raised in the Parliament session beginning next week by opposition parties, who were on Friday briefed by the government about the situation on both the fronts. Emerging from the meeting, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma told reporters that their party has raised some doubts before the government but made it clear that “nation is first — be it China or Kashmir”. “There is too much of tension and that should be lowered through diplomacy. We will also raise the issue in Parliament,” both the leaders said. Sharma said that the Congress made its view clear that national security was the priority and advised the government to rise above politics and tackle the situation diplomatically.

Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien said that his party raised “some serious questions” and claimed that the government had no answer to his question on preparedness for such incidents. The opposition leaders were briefed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and top officials, including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, ahead of the Parliament session beginning Monday.

The opposition leaders were told about the prevailing situation along the Sino-Indian border and Jammu and Kashmir and the government’s action. Others who attended the meeting — considered an effort to build consensus on dealings with India’s biggest neighbour and Kashmir — included Mallikarjun Kharge (Congress) Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Mulayam Singh Yadav (Samajwadi Party), Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP), Tariq Anwar (NCP) and Sharad Yadav and K C Tyagi (JD-U).

China and India have been engaged in the standoff in the Dokalam area for the past three weeks after a Chinese Army’s construction party attempted to build a road. Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region. In Jammu and Kashmir, seven pilgrims were killed by militants in Anantnag district while returning from the Amarnath cave shrine on Monday. Four districts of the state — Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Anantnag — have been on the boil since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8, 2016.

The unrest has resumed since the April 9 by-poll to the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat. Opposition leaders have been criticising the government for the way it has handled China and Kashmir.

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