The government on Saturday assured leaders of 11 parties that India will be “patient and peaceful” in dealing with neighbours. Sources said that Defence and External Affairs Ministers Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj told them that they will not act in haste despite provocations. At the second such briefing in as many days, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar underlined that there are differences with China over the standoff at Doklam but the tension is not as much as is being presented.
Former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, who attended the two-hour-long briefing, told The Sunday Express that there was consensus that the dispute with China should be resolved through negotiations. At the briefing, Communist Party of India’s D Raja asked the government to make use of available mechanisms like the 1993 Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control with China.
“There are available mechanisms and they should be used for negotiations to arrive at a diplomatic solution for the dispute,” Raja was quoted as saying at the meeting. Raja spoke about growing India-China trade ties and noted that the two countries are members of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS. “China must be equally concerned about the standoff with India. Both countries should talk to resolve it,” he said.
Revolutionary Socialist Party’s N K Premachandran underlined the need for maintaining cordial ties with the closest neighbours. He added that improving relations with neighbours is more important than making efforts to better ties with faraway countries. Representatives from the Northeast sought development of infrastructure in border areas while one of them called for an early resolution to the Gorkhaland issue. Jaitley cited “difficult terrain” as a problem and added that there has been improvement in border infrastructure.
Home secretary-designate Rajiv Gauba, who gave a presentation on the attack on Amarnath pilgrims, maintained that there was no security lapse. He added that 1.86 lakh people have gone for the pilgrimage since June 29. The leaders were told that over 200 additional paramilitary companies and three Army battalions had been deployed for security.
The leaders were told that security arrangements for the yatra were reviewed again after the attack and that the Centre and the state government were closely monitoring them.