Top central ministers and officials today briefed opposition leaders, including from the Congress, Left and SP, on the standoff with China and the situation in Kashmir, officials said. The briefing by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and top officials, including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, comes ahead of the parliament session beginning Monday. Opposition leaders were told about the prevailing situation along the Sino-Indian border and Jammu and Kashmir and the government action, officials said.
Those who attended the meeting — considered an effort to build consensus on dealings with India’s biggest neighbour and Kashmir — include Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge (Congress) Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Mulayam Singh Yadav (Samajwadi Party), Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP), Tariq Anwar (NCP), Sharad Yadav, K C Tyagi (JD-U) and Derek O’Brien (TMC). New Delhi has expressed concern over China trying to change the status quo at the India-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction in Dokalam area of Sikkim. 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.
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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 bypoll to the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat.
Opposition leaders have been criticising the government for the way it has handled China and Kashmir. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence” on China. On Wednesday, he accused Modi of pursuing policies that created space for terrorists in Kashmir. He also alleged that the prime minister’s pursuit of short-term political gains from the BJP-PDP alliance in the state has cost the country dear and resulted in innocent lives being lost.