New Delhi, July 14, The government on Friday assured major opposition parties and allies that the military stand-off with China will be resolved diplomatically and peacefully as leaders in one voice said that national security was paramount for them.
Top ministers Rajnath Singh (Home), Sushma Swaraj (External Affairs) and Arun Jaitley (Defence) conferred with leaders of 14 parties, including BJP and Congress, on the issue of India-China stand-off in the Doklam sector and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir arising out of the killing of Amarnath pilgrims last week.
YSR Congress MP Rajamohan Reddy told reporters after the meeting that the government side, including Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, assured the leaders that the military row with China "will be resolved diplomatically and peacefully".
The opposition leaders told the government that they were with the government on the issue of national security but added that they had concerns which they would raise in parliament.
The three-hour-long meeting with opposition parties as well as BJP allies came ahead of the Parliament session beginning on Monday. It was to brief them about the situation on the China border as well as in Jammu and Kashmir.
The government told the leaders that Chinese activities in the Doklam sector were hurting Indian strategic interests. Sources said the leaders were told that China kept changing its stand on the India-China-Bhutan trijunction. The Chinese stand affected India's strategic interests, the meeting was told.
China has repeatedly told India to withdraw its troops from the area for the month-long stand-off to end.
All the parties at the meeting condemned the July 10 terror attack on the Amarnath pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir that left seven people dead and at least 20 injured.
The ministers insisted that the attack was not an outcome of any security lapse but it took place because the bus carrying the pilgrims was not registered with the authorities and moved much after the security forces had withdrawn from the area.
Among the parties which took part in the meeting were the Congress, the BJP, AIADMK, DMK, JD-U, Trinamool Congress, CPI-M, TRS, BSP, Samajwadi Party, YSR Congress, Shiv Sena, LJP and TDP.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said: "While we have heard the detailed account and sequence of events which has been presented by the government, the Congress party and the other opposition parties have made it clear that when it comes to national interest, India's security and India's integrity are paramount and are non-negotiable."
At the same time, he said concerns have been registered, particularly to de-escalate the situation and tension so that peace and tranquility is throughout maintained which has been as per the bilateral agreements and for which diplomatic efforts must continue.
Asked if these issues would be taken up in parliament, he said: "That is what parliament is meant for. It is the highest forum for discussion and debate."
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said that on the issue of Amarnath Yatra, the parties made it very clear that the entire country and Jammu and Kashmir stood behind the Yatris and their families, who were killed by the militants.
"Every section of the Kashmir Valley, be it mainstream or non-mainstream and ordinary citizens, stood behind the victims and showed solidarity along with the whole country. They also condemned the terrorists. They have given an opportunity and opened a door that we can show our sympathy along with the whole nation and that we are against the militants.
"The government should also open the window to start the dialogue. They cannot keep the windows closed. Guns are not the only soultion to Kashmir problem," he said.
On China, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said the government told the leaders that it will tackle the situation through dialogue.
Union Minister and Lok Janshakti Party leader Ramvilas Paswan said: "All parties were agreed that there can not be compromise on issue of national interest. Everyone said that they, across party lines, are with the government over the issue. They have promised to support government over the issue."
Derek O'Brien of Trinamool Congress said his party has some straight-forward questions on Amarnath issue for which they did not get answers.
"This is an issue of safety and security. So, we had to ask some hard questions. If they knew about this (attack), why did they not act? Why did the government fail. These are the hard questions we asked. We did not get answers," he said.
The government is also likely to brief the leaders of other parties who could not attend Friday's meeting.